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Gonzaga Women's Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga women

Gonzaga women ready for return of home crowd at FanFest

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 14, 2021

Gonzaga’s Cierra Walker plays roshambo with assistant coach Craig Fortier during last season’s virtual FanFest.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Gonzaga’s Cierra Walker plays roshambo with assistant coach Craig Fortier during last season’s virtual FanFest. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The Gonzaga women plan to make some noise this year, but for now they just want to hear some.

It’s been 20 months since the Zags played to a crowd at the McCarthey Athletic Center, a streak that will finally end Saturday with the return of FanFest.

The Kennel doors will open at 3 p.m. One hour later, the Zags will hear the kind of cheering that’s been missing since GU hosted Santa Clara on Feb. 15, 2020.

Since then, the Zags have won 24 games and two West Coast Conference regular-season titles. But they haven’t heard the cheers of a big Kennel crowd.

“It’s been awhile,” head coach Lisa Fortier said this week. “I can’t tell if this is normal or surreal, but our freshmen and sophomores have never been to a FanFest – everyone is kind of giddy.

“The players we recruit, they would tell you that’s big part of playing at Gonzaga.”

That’s also true for fifth-year senior Cierra Walker, who transferred from Vanderbilt in the summer of 2019 and redshirted the following year.

That means it’s been 2½ years since Walker has been in uniform and heard the cheers of a crowd.

“I’m just super excited to have fans in the arena,” Walker said.

That will happen Saturday with the return of FanFest. Unlike the men’s Kraziness in the Kennel event, fans won’t need tickets for admission. Two years ago, the event drew about 2,000 fans.

Saturday’s event will open with a new intro video, followed by a 3-point shooting contest, a skills competition and four quarters of basketball, at 4 minutes apiece.

While her assistants coach the teams, Fortier will take a chair in the stands and “hope the players take care of the ball.”

Two weeks into fall practice, Fortier said the team is just focused on “getting better.”

“Our players are eager to learn the things we are try to teach them,” Fortier said.

The Zags got some extra motivation this week; instead of their accustomed spot atop the West Coast Conference preseason poll, they’re picked second, behind BYU.

The Zags will get their first shot at BYU in the Kennel on Feb. 5. Until then, they want to hear some noise.

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