We got to celebrate career win #1,000 for Tara VanDerveer and look back on her legendary career. Tara, in her typical understated-ness said this was pretty much like any game, and would be on to victory #1,001 shortly after. However, it was great to see the joy her players had for being part of this historic run and this particular victory.
There was Erica “Bird” McCall, all fist-pumping and fired up for hitting a three at the half time buzzer to put the team up 31-22, and running C’s streak of free pizzas (She had guessed 30 points at the half). There was the pure unadulterated glee as Erica and Karlie Samuelson caught Tara unaware as they held a huge orange Gatorade Bucket over Tara’s head, her body language prepared to be doused, only to find out it contained confetti. And the pride the three seniors had, Erica, Karlie and Bri Roberson, presenting Tara with a commemorative plaque with a Stanford jersey with “Vanderveer” on the back and the number 1,000.
Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer celebrates win #1,000.
Photo courtesy of Stanford WBB.
Final score, not that anyone cares, was 58-42, a low scoring affair for Stanford. Wonder if emotions had anything to do with it? The game was close until the third when Karlie Samuelson hit three 3-pointers in quick succession and added a jumper at the buzzer to help Stanford pull away. She would finish with a game-high 21 points. Erica added 18, and Brittany McPhee chipped in ten.
But when the final seconds ticked down, and Maples began chanting and cheering, the final score did not matter. More confetti rained down from the ceiling, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott gave Tara a commutative trophy. Former player and now much-in-demand TV analyst Ros Gold-Onwude (we said hi, she knew who we were!) summed up the night for the crowd, and finally the microphone was given to the coach herself.
Believe it or not, she, the master of dead-panned humor said she was speechless! Then in traditional Tara fashion thanked many and deflected glory. For Tara, echoed the many articles written before the game, the game is not about the victories but about the relationships. A wonderful video tribute played with so many people stating what Tara means to her, including many Stanford fan favorites of ex-players.
The night was attended by some of those players, such as Jennifer Azzi, who said more than a coach, Tara has been her friend for life. The game just happened to coincided with National Girls and Women in Sports Day, and in the lobby before the game, C and R walked by Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky giving autographs and in Simone’s case, wearing flippers on dry land to race a young fan in a swim rely. At half time, Stanford introduced the National Champs in Women’s Volleyball, and just “a few” of Stanford’s Olympians, including Ledecky and Manuel. You know, every day people you might see in class if you went to Stanford.
So yes, it was great to make a big deal out of one victory for Tara VanDerveer, lest we forget every victory is special in its own way. Bay Area sports fan, we are lucky to have such a person who strives for success, yet puts more emphasis on watching and helping her players grow.
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