Riki Mueser Sorenson played basketball at Stanford for four seasons, from 1983 to 1986-87. Dotty McCrea was the coach during Riki's freshman and sophomore seasons. Then, in 1985, Tara VanDerveer came in and things changed — a lot.
I recently came across Riki's account of that period in Stanford Women's Basketball (It was originally posted by C and R's Stanford Women's Basketball Blog):
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.Here are several more remembrances of Stanford Women's Basketball from even further back that you may not have seen before or may enjoy re-reading (They're linked to in the FBC Where are They Now? files.)
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!"
So I get to enjoy the legacy even though I played a very small part in it...
The Pinney Generation by Mariah Burton Nelson ('78)
We were the Pinney generation. We wore them in the days before Stanford issued practice jerseys -- or, for that matter, uniforms ...Escaping from Roble by Mariah Burton Nelson ('78)
The phone rang. It was Fred Hargadon, Dean of Admissions. It was April 1974 and I had not yet accepted Stanford’s invitation to attend ...Just Want to Play Ball by Stephanie Erickess-Caluya ('77)
It's 1969, I'm a skinny, long-legged 13-year-old white girl in a small town in the San Francisco Bay Area ... Dr King Jr had been murdered in the prior year, the U.S. had launched a full-scale war against Vietnam, and I discovered the basketball ...