SAN ANTONIO (CBS SF) — A sheepish grin crept across Stanford star point guard Kiana Williams’ face as she was asked what she felt was a turning point of the Cardinal’s championship season.
She quickly reflected back to the early days of the 2020-2021 season with Santa Clara County gripped in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and a momentarily slip in judgement.READ MORE: San Jose Police Investigate Shooting Downtown In Hyde Park Neighborhood
“I’ll share a quick story — she’s (coach Tara VanDerVeer) probably going to get mad, but in September when we first got back to campus we all got in trouble for breaking quarantine. We were supposed to be in isolation for five days and on the fourth day we went to a gym off campus to play pickup and when she found out she was just so heartbroken and disappointed and I felt like the only way to make up for that to win a National Championship for her…And also want to add I felt like it was worth it going to play those pickup games.”
While many teams across the country had season disrupted by COVID-19 cases, Stanford did not have one positive test all season. The team learned from the VanDerveer’s disappointment at the start of the season.READ MORE: Calls For Justice As Suspects In Asian American Attacks Appear In San Francisco Court - 'We Are Watching'
But they suffered in a different way. Santa Clara County — where Stanford is located — prohibited all athletic games or practices. Stanford was forced to relocate to gyms in other counties and also to Santa Cruz. The team was on the road for nearly 10 weeks, spending 86 days in hotels during this nomadic season.
“I’m so proud of this team, not just for their basketball but being able to get through this COVID and be so mature,” VanDerveer said. “Not having anyone test positive on our team through the whole winter is awesome.”
Haley Jones, who was honored as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, said the challenges of a season on the road toughened the team.MORE NEWS: COVID Vaccine: Santa Clara County Ramps Up Effort With Dose Surplus
“It was a long, very difficult journey being on the road, sleeping in hotels, living out of your bag. It’s just a lot. You’re on the bus, you’re on planes all the time and there’s just never really an end in sight so it’s difficult,” Jones said.