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Residents at Spokane assisted-living facility bond through Gonzaga basketball

UPDATED: Tue., April 6, 2021

Approximately a half hour before tipoff Monday night for Gonzaga versus Baylor, Cathy Ford didn’t have as much of a prediction as she had a prayer.

“I hope it isn’t like the last game,” said Ford, 71, referring to Gonzaga’s buzzer-beater win over UCLA to make the title game.

Ford was among the residents at the Touchmark on South Hill retirement home in Spokane watching the NCAA Tournament title game. The assisted-living facility hosted an overwhelmingly pro-Gonzaga crowd for the game.

Monday night’s social saw Touchmark serving beer and wine to residents with two primary gathering spots upstairs to watch the game: The Clock, Touchmark’s sports bar named after the clock at the Crescent Department Store, and the Forum.

Ford and fellow resident Earline Cochran cheered on Gonzaga together through the tournament.

“I love being with Cathy because she clues me in on all the moves and explains the different ones,” said Cochran, whose Gonzaga face mask matched Ford’s. “I didn’t know all that before; I sure knew when it went into the basket, but now I know how they’re playing.”

Gonzaga’s Final Four overtime win against UCLA was particularly stressful, Ford said.

“Holy cow,” she said. “Jumping up and down. Screaming. Clapping our hands. Hugged each other.”

Ford and Cochran have been Gonzaga fans for years. Cochran is a longtime resident, while Ford is a Gonzaga graduate who was on the cheerleading team and taught a speech class at the university for a decade. The Spokane native’s brother was the Rev. Patrick Ford, a Jesuit who was well known and revered during his 27 years at Gonzaga as an educator and administrator.

With a 99% COVID-19 vaccination rate throughout the facility and comparatively loosened restrictions statewide, Touchmark was a much different place Monday than it was a month ago, let alone last March when the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus, said Brittany Holden, Touchmark’s life enrichment director.

“I love that we made that bond,” Cochran said. “That was because of Touchmark putting us together. We enjoy our friendship.”

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