PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — A campus victory celebration Monday afternoon for the returning champion Stanford Women’s Basketball team was subdued and distanced because of COVID.

But a small and enthusiastic crowd of supporters greeted the team as they paraded around campus in convertible cars.

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“It’s awesome! It’s awesome. We’re smiling,” said Head Coach Tara VanDerveer who held the NCAA National Championship trophy.

The team arrived on campus less than 24 hours after winning the championship by holding off the Arizona Wildcats 54-53 in the title game to cap off the
COVID-challenged season.

“They worked their butts off. They went from hotel to hotel. We couldn’t be more proud to wear the same jersey as them,” said Drew Dowd, a member of Stanford men’s baseball team.

The win marked Stanford’s first women’s basketball championship in 29 years, and some badly needed uplift for the campus community.

“Extraordinary determination and grit and resilience through a very, very difficult period. And I think they’ve been role model for all of us,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne.

“It was great, good game, good to see people out again, good to see people happy about something, you know, after a year of kind of sitting in the house,” said The Patio owner Megan Kawkab.

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She said her downtown Palo Alto restaurant and bar was packed with Stanford students and fans during Sunday’s game.

“It was electric in the room, it was wild, people were so happy,” Kawkab said. “Everyone was jumping up and down and then in the last second, oh my gosh, it was wild.”

“It was a bit emotional, I mean, I grew up here,” said Cedric Mazzara. “I went to Stanford for the tennis academy since I was a kid so we watched them play.”

Monday’s parade route took the team around campus drive, into downtown Palo Alto and back again.

Because of COVD, no mass rally to celebrate the victory could be held. No speeches were given. But the team and their supporters seemed to relish in the glory of an unforgettable championship season.

“Thank you for everything Stanford!” said tournament MVP Haley Jones as her car rounded the oval on campus.

The win keeps alive Stanford’s remarkable 55-year streak of having a national championship in at least one sport.

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Maria Medina also contributed to this report