Not many at Allstate Arena realized the significance when the Chicago Sky’s Courtney Vandersloot embraced the New York Liberty’s Katelan Redmon an hour before the all-important WNBA clash between the two Eastern Conference opponents Friday night. But for Vandersloot and Redmon, along with scores of Gonzaga women’s basketball faithful, it was history in the making as two players from GU appeared in a WNBA uniform for the first-time ever; ironically coming as the two battled each other.
Vandersloot, the veteran if you will of the two, is in her second year with the Sky as the starting point guard, while Redmon, drafted by the Liberty in this year’s draft, was released before the 2012 season began until being signed back by the Liberty this past Sunday on a seven-day contract.
The fateful call by Redmon’s agent Sunday – while she was working Gonzaga women’s basketball camp registration – changed the course of her summer, while putting her and Vandersloot on a collision course to make GU history.
“Right after I got the call from my agent Sunday, I jumped online to check out the Liberty schedule and found out I got to play Courtney,” explained Redmon. “I was pretty excited when I found that out.”
So nearly 60 minutes before tip off, Vandersloot and Redmon had a big hug at mid-court. They chatted for a few minutes before each went to their respective sides of the court to warm up. It was a tad odd to see them in different colors and being opposition, when, in what seems like just yesterday, they were putting the Zags in the national spotlight with two Sweet Sixteen runs and one Elite Eight run in the NCAA Tournament; where they became the darlings of the show.
They didn’t talk long, but long enough for old friends and teammates to catch up.
“We talked about her [Katelan] coming back to the league, about her being excited, about the terms of her contract, what she had been doing for the small break,” explained Vandersloot of the moment between the former Bulldogs. “We just caught up since we last saw each other.”
When the pregame time dwindled down to zero and the game horn sounded, Vandersloot and Redmon history making moment commenced.
Vandersloot played a team-leading 36 minutes for the Chicago Sky. She scored six points, dished out eight assists, had seven rebounds, two blocks and one steal in the game.
Redmon saw 48 seconds in the contest – her dream of playing in the WNBA becoming a reality late in the second quarter.
And who was at the scorer’s table waiting to check in at the same time? Yep, Vandersloot and Redmon again found themselves together at midcourt waiting for the buzzer to sound; like they had done a million times at the McCarthey Athletic Center in their Gonzaga whites.
“We checked in at the same time and we were at scorers table for a bit and I just looked at her and thought ‘good luck, do your thing’,” explained Vandersloot of the moment. “I wanted to win the game of course but overall I just wished the best for her and hope she does well.”
The game ended with the Liberty pulling out a 64-59 victory over the Sky.
“It was nice to see a familiar face, especially a former Zag teammate. It makes it a bit more comfortable because there aren’t a lot of us Zags out there,” said Vandersloot of having another Gonzaga graduate in the league. “It was different to see her in a different uniform but that is what happens, right? You move on. I think she looks good in that uniform.”
And move on they did. After post-game handshakes and hugs, Vandersloot and the Sky prepared to jump on a bus and make the 3-hour trek to Indianapolis, while Redmon and the Liberty fly back to New York Saturday to prepare for the San Antonio Silver Stars.
They may move on, as the fast paced life of the WNBA does, but the history making moment they each were a part of will last a lifetime for them and Gonzaga.