Any time Florida State University and the University of Florida meet in athletics the competitions carry additional significance thanks to the matchup being one of the best rivalries in the nation, no matter the sport.
When the defending national champion Seminoles softball team hosted the Gators on April 17 there was even more magnitude than usual.
Both teams were ranked in the top six in the country. More than 1,800 fans – the third largest home crowd in FSU history – filled JoAnne Graf Field for the Wednesday night showdown. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threw out the first pitch. And the Seminole Tribe was represented in a pregame ceremony by Richard Osceola, who presented FSU coach Lonnie Alameda with a framed portrait of a woman that he referred to as “Mother Morningstar” and a medallion of the Mother on a necklace. The presentations were made in recognition of FSU’s national championship squad from a year ago.
“We’re honoring [coach Alameda] with the success she’s had here,” Osceola said, “and being a woman’s team, we thought it would be nice to give her a portrait of a lady.”
Osceola explained that the portrait and medallion represent wisdom among other things and that each clan has a “Mother Morningstar” or someone of similar ilk.
“She’s a wisdom woman. She has a lot of Indian wisdom and culture and life itself,” Osceola said.
The portrait was made by Leroy Osceola and was presented on behalf of Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr.’s office. The medallion was made by Tina Marie Osceola and was presented on behalf of President Mitchell Cypress’s office.
Alameda treasures the relationship between FSU and the Tribe.
“It was a great honor to host the Seminole Tribe for the game and it is a continual privilege to represent the Seminoles every day as the head coach of the FSU softball team,” Alameda wrote in an email to the Tribune. “It is outstanding to have the relationship that we do with the Tribe and how often they are willing to come up and share the stories of their history, or be gracious and hospitable to us when we are down in South Florida. I aspire to be everything that Mother Morningstar represents in being a strong leader and will treasure the portrait and the necklace forever. As head coach of the FSU softball program, I not only want to develop the young women into the best players and students that they can be, but also to educate them on what the Seminole Tribe represents and their long history. We appreciate our relationship with the Tribe and how we are part of a communal family.”
As for the game, FSU fell to UF, 4-0, but the Seminoles rebounded right away, winning their next six games as of April 27 and upping their record to 44-8.