STANFORD, Calif. (AP) – When Stanford arrived to work out at a highschool health club one January afternoon and the lights had been out, Kiana Williams could not assist however surprise if her workforce had now seen all of it throughout this strangest season. .

Excessive winds in a city exterior of Santa Cruz, Calif., One of many Cardinal’s non permanent bases earlier this yr, had brought about an influence outage. So Stanford adjusted – as he had been doing for nearly two months already at this level – modified the coaching plan and saved the whole coaching adjusted with minimal gentle.

No downside, the cardinal would possibly simply snort about it.

These girls had been extra used to such challenges at the moment. In late November, Santa Clara County established COVID-19 well being and security protocols banning practices and competitions. These restrictions remained in place for 9 weeks – so the cardinal hit the street.

“I am like, ‘How unhealthy can issues get, how unhealthy can issues get?’” Williams recollects that tough interval, which included the workforce’s solely two losses. “We had simply misplaced, we had been coaching in a highschool health club, the ground is slippery, the lights are out, I am like, ‘What else goes to be thrown at us?’ We went by way of all of it and right here we’re.

The place they’re is the Elite Eight, with the Cardinal extra assured than ever after dwelling as a nomad for 2 months.

When the game ban fell, Corridor of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer first moved her workforce to Las Vegas and rushed to schedule new video games after others had been postponed or canceled altogether. . She had a key connection that got here in helpful for video games and coaching house: Former Stanford participant and up to date assistant Lindy La Rocque had simply turn into UNLV head coach.

In all, Stanford has spent nearly 10 weeks away from campus and traveled hundreds of miles to make this season a actuality. The seeded Cardinal (28-2) performed the season opener on November 25 at dwelling at Maples Pavilion, noticed the subsequent two video games scheduled on campus canceled, after which did not play once more at dwelling earlier than internet hosting Colorado in February. 5.

It meant lodge dwelling and studying, Zoom overloads and makeshift research tables for one. Typical workforce meals had been additionally uncommon.

“I believe this entire yr has been dedicated to that precise phrase, particularly ‘having fun with’, appreciating each little factor as a result of it was taken from us, then the health club was taken from us, the video games at dwelling had been taken away from us. eliminated, “VanDerveer mentioned.

If a workforce on this yr’s championship felt prepared for an prolonged keep in San Antonio, Stanford has.

“We’re higher ready and we all know what to anticipate as a result of we have been doing it for 10 weeks,” mentioned Williams. “No different workforce has needed to undergo this.”

One thought VanDerveer usually reminds his workforce is, “Each disappointment is a blessing.” It’s one in all his “tara-isms” as his gamers name him the slogans of the coach.

“I simply discovered how mentally robust everyone seems to be. It was exhausting and exhausting at instances to go straight again from apply to the lodge after which watch your Zoom class within the lodge in isolation, ”Williams mentioned. … It takes a particular particular person to get by way of this. “

There have been days when nobody needed to coach. To not point out discovering the motivation to check as well as if it does.

Even months earlier than their street journey, gamers skilled on Stanford’s outside tennis courts earlier than being allowed to soundly return to Maples Lodge throughout the pandemic.

“I believe the time period resilience is so apt when you think about the journey of this workforce in current months,” Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir mentioned. “Tara, her workers and the workforce made probably the most of any state of affairs, whatever the obstacles, and remained solely centered on how one can keep collectively, assist one another and enhance with the final word objective of play the subsequent recreation … and hopefully rather a lot after that.

The gamers bought away with checking themselves daily. Some have dealt with every thing higher than others. Both method, they stayed collectively.

There have been group texts and different methods to remain related. Now there’s an NCAA ping pong match to spend a while and assist take the stress off the match.

“It was a extremely robust time and I believe it allowed us to get probably the most out of us,” mentioned Williams. “We have had good days, we have had unhealthy days, however I believe mentally we’re only a lot stronger than we in all probability could be if we hadn’t been by way of these 10 weeks on the street.

“Wanting again it is one thing we would not have chosen to do, however I am glad we did as a result of I believe we had that benefit right here in San Antonio.

Alongside the best way, VanDerveer grew to become probably the most profitable girls’s basketball coach of all time, overtaking the late Pat Summitt. This season, her thirty fifth at The Farm, has pushed her like no different as Stanford pursues this system’s first championship since 1992.

“With the journey, with COVID, with the stress of all of it, we have adjusted,” VanDerveer mentioned. “We needed to be versatile in what we do.”

VanDerveer is hoping his workforce’s adapting expertise will result in three extra wins and another title.

“They wish to play collectively, they need it to proceed,” she mentioned. “The groups that go the furthest are those that simply don’t need it to cease.”


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