Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 44° Partly Cloudy
News >  Spokane

Someday, Vandersloot’s jersey will hang from Gonzaga’s rafters: ‘She’s just special’

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 21, 2021

The cheers rose from coast to coast on Sunday when Courtney Vandersloot and the Chicago Sky won their first WNBA title.

Some of the loudest came from Spokane, where Vandersloot starred at Gonzaga before turning pro.

Now Gonzaga wants to raise the roof for the greatest player in program history by retiring her No. 21 jersey at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

“It’s definitely a priority for us,” GU athletic director Chris Standiford told The Spokesman-Review.

Retiring Vandersloot’s No. 21 jersey has been in the works for some time; in fact, no one has worn it since she graduated in 2011.

All that remains is to find an open date in her busy schedule. Vandersloot also plays in Europe, and it’s unclear when she will depart.

The Gonzaga women open the regular season on Nov. 11.

“We don’t want to honor her without her being here,” Standiford said. “What Courtney has done for the program is really special.”

The Kennel rafters hold the retired numbers of three men’s players: Frank Burgess, John Stockton and Adam Morrison.

As Vandersloot celebrated Sunday night, GU coach Lisa Fortier said she was cheering and crying.

Fortier was an assistant under Kelly Graves when Vandersloot arrived on campus in fall 2007 from Kent, Washington.

“She was already really good, but what I can tell you is that I would always bet on her,” Fortier said. “She’s always had that special sauce – she’s just special.”

Vandersloot went on to become a four-year starter from 2008-11 and the only woman in West Coast Conference basketball history to win three consecutive player of the year titles.

As a senior, she led the Zags to their only Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and was the first Division 1 player, male or female, to accumulate 2,000 points and 1,000 assists in a career.

Fortier was Vandersloot’s position coach all four seasons but said that “she maybe helped me even more.”

“I was a young coach, trying to help her in some way, but she was always pushing me to be better,” Fortier said.

“But the reason I was crying was that relations were really important to her – that’s one of the things we did really well,” Fortier said.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

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.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.