CORVALLIS, Oregon – Laura Stockton still has wheels.
On Friday, however, they were attached to the legs of a courtside chair.
As her Gonzaga teammates gathered around head coach Lisa Fortier on the Gill Coliseum floor, they left an opening – an invitation, rather, to their friend and teammate.
“C’mon, Laura,” the players called.
Forty feet away, Stockton saw the opening and drove the lane like the point guard she still is.
Propelling herself with one good leg, she joined the huddle and smiled.
“Let’s do this,” Stockton said as the Zags prepared for Saturday’s first-round NCAA Tournament game against Little Rock.
Two minutes later, the players took layup drills and Stockton took a seat – not on the chair, but atop an exercise bike.
Stockton’s legs were in motion – and so was her mind, as if to say: “How can I help this team?”
Despite the leg injury she suffered last week in Las Vegas, this NCAA Tournament isn’t happening without Laura Stockton.
Before her senior season began, she wished aloud that she could win an NCAA Tournament game. That much hasn’t changed.
“I’m not about to miss this,” Stockton said.
She didn’t offer details about the injury to her left leg, except to say “I’m out for the rest of the year.”
Out, but not down.
Soon after the injury, sympathetic messages helped ease the pain.
“I’ve had so many text messages, people reaching to me – which has been awesome,” she said. “I really appreciate it.
“It’s hard to get back to everybody, but I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Now it’s Stockton’s turn to offer words of encouragement.
She won’t score another point for the Zags, but the assists keep coming. Officially, Stockton has 459, third most in school history.
Expect a few more this weekend.
“She always offers advice,” her former backup, Jessie Loera, said this week. “Mostly point-guard stuff.”
Life stuff, too.
“There’s a lot of teams that don’ t get to play right now, they’re done,” Stockton said. “We still have an opportunity to do something here and continue to play the sport we all love.
“I don’t even get to play, so taking every day and not taking it for granted. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way life is sometimes.
“There’s a lot of pride in the work we did to get here, but it’s awesome for me to still experience it. … And to watch them succeed.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.