Happy International Women’s Day to You!
One of the many neat things about writing this Stanford Women’s Basketball Blog is we get mail from people connected to Stanford and we get to talk to people we otherwise wouldn’t get to meet. C and R recently got a letter from a former Stanford player named Riki Sorenson (aka Erica Mueser Sorenson ’87). She was there before Tara VanDerveer under Coach Dotty McCrea and there when Tara VanDerveer came in. What a unique perspective to play for both coaches and systems. We asked her to compare the two. Here’s what she graciously contributed:
I played back in the dark and dreary days of sub-.500 seasons. A coaching change was made at the end of my sophomore year. I remember during Tara’s interview she said, “so how much fan support do you get?” We mentioned that we could usually count on my parents, a handful of fans, and that’s it… they didn’t even pull out the bleachers. We thought she’d never leave Ohio State (top 8 in country) for Stanford. Tara came in and got a huge budget and serious commitment from the A.D. so things changed VERY quickly. I loved playing for Tara. She didn’t scream at players or at refs, she studied the game, she was efficient in practice, and she knew her stuff. The song “I can see clearly now the rain is gone” would come on and it was my theme song. Wasn’t so happy when she’d say things like, “we’ve got to get some real horses in here,” like we were just chopped liver, but really, we probably were. Still, I’ve never worked so hard in my life. Even Jennifer Azzi and Katy Steding learned how to work hard from us liver-choppers. The highlight of my career was during my senior season – we beat CAL at home after 3 1/2 years of losing to them (1987). When I left after the game there were people directing traffic with FLARES in the road (that’s how many fans had come!). I knew that Stanford Women’s Basketball had arrived! Three years later there were SCALPERS selling tix!
One funny story… we had an award that the seniors (grandmas) would bestow on the most gullible freshman at the end of the season. It’s called the “Lizard Lung” award because there was this weird stuff the trainers gave us to put on blisters and they called it Lizard Lung. One freshman, hearing about it, was horrified because she thought it was real lizard lung. Thus the award was initiated (Kami Anderson, first recipient). Jennifer Azzi won it, hands down, as a freshman, for asking, at the first day of practice, “How many teams are in the Pac-10, anyway?” I believe the award continues even now!
A teammate had a really good line (Emily Wagner Gallagher, ’89?)… before Tara came to Stanford if you told someone you played basketball at Stanford, they’d say “Wow! you must be really SMART!” After Tara and the National Championship they’d say “Wow, you must be really GOOD!”