STOCKTON – Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanderVeer delivered the keynote address at the NCAA Kickoff Luncheon for the 2017 Women’s Regional on Wednesday at Stockton Arena.
The coaching legend said nothing would make her happier than being inside the same arena six months from now with her team still alive in the Big Dance.
“You have no idea how much it would mean to me and our team to be here,” VanderVeer said. “Our team and our staff will do everything we can to make it happen.”
Pacific coach Bradley Davis, who also spoke at the luncheon, would like nothing more than to coach his Tigers against VanderVeer’s Cardinal.
“Bradley, there are already two spots taken: It’s us and Pacific,” said VanderVeer jokingly. “So maybe we’ll find some other teams to bring in.
“March 13, on Monday night, they’ll introduce the regionals and they’ll say Stockton Regional and we hope that Pacific and Stanford are both coming to it.”
Of course, the four teams who will compete in Stockton must earn their spots. But whoever winds up here, all of the spirited play, emotion and drama of March Madness will be present inside the 10,000-seat downtown waterfront arena March 25 and March 27 with a berth to the Final Four in Dallas, Texas on the line. Pacific and Visit Stockton have teamed to bring an NCAA women’s basketball regional, also referred to as the Sweet 16, to Stockton for the first time. Tickets will go on sale Oct. 28 at the Stockton Arena box office.
VanderVeer knows as well as anyone what an NCAA regional entails. Since 1985, the four-time national coach of the year has guided the Cardinal to the Sweet Sixteen 23 times. Her teams have made nine appearances in the Final Four and have earned two national championships.
“What you’re going to see as a host city for a women’s basketball regional, hopefully everyone in this room will be at the championship game,” VanderVeer said. “You will not see more happiness in your life than when a team is going to go to the Final Four.”
Much more will take place at the regional than just the three games – two semifinals and one regional championship game. Fans will have an opportunity to watch teams practice and the NCAA will host several cursory events. Stockton also will receive national television exposure.
“We think this is going to be a great host site for our upcoming championship,” said Rick Nixon with the NCAA.
The NCAA looks at potential host sites across the country and Nixon said Stockton fit the criteria by having an appropriately sized arena, nearby airports and enough hotel rooms.
“And we definitely just try to figure out is the community ready to host an event of this magnitude,” Nixon said. “We felt Stockton was and we’re excited to be here. We think it’s going to be a great site for us and something maybe in the future if they find this to be a great experience they’ll want to do it again.”
-- Contact sports editor Bob Highfill at (209) 546-8282 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at recordnet.com/sportsblog and on Twitter @bobhighfill.