Living Up to a Legacy

November 28, 2010

by Damon Anglin and Reina Kempt

A basketball legacy is defined by hard work, hours spent on the hardwood running wind sprints, countless drills, and more than anything else, the will to succeed no matter the cost. The Louisiana Tech Women’s basketball program has achieved that and so much more in the past 37 years, and the team is looking to add to that in the years to come.

As the 2010-11 Lady Techsters prepare for the season ahead, they realize they have big shoes to fill. Since 1973, the program has won three national championships, appeared in eight national championship games and has appeared in 28 national post-season tournaments. These numbers are impressive when standing alone, but together they tell you the story behind this respected program.

At the age of 19, New Zealand native Jelena Vucinic knows what it means to be a part of the women’s program at Tech, even though she grew up about 7,000 miles away.

“When I look at the banners,” Vucinic said. “I think of all the people that have played before and all those girls that were playing on those championship teams.”

The banners that hang high up above the crowd at Thomas Assembly Center show the credentials for past teams.

Teresa Weatherspoon, head coach of the team, knows what it’s like to play on a championship team.

“In 1988 was the year that we won the National Championship,” Weatherspoon, a two-time All-American and five-time WNBA All-Star, said. “We were not the most talented. We were not the most athletic. We were not of that, but our heart and everything was in to it to believe that we could get it done.”

They were able to get it done, and Weatherspoon went onto a successful career in the WNBA before returning to the place where it started for her. The program has continued to win and win often, but it has not reached the success with which it used to be so familiar. Not having reached the NCAA tournament since the 2005-2006 season, Weatherspoon has added a new spark to the team. They reached the tournament in her first full season as head coach, and there’s no chance of them slowing down.

The team won the Western Athletic Conference Championship last year, also the first time since the 2005-2006 season. Adrienne Johnson, 21, was excited about winning the championship.

“We’re just going to work hard in practice, work hard on defense, and we’ll be able to do it again,” the senior forward told us.

This season’s team is doing just that, and as they prepare for opening night, they look to their head coach for inspiration.

Weatherspoon said the team needed chemistry, defense, offensive execution, and the ability to believe in everything that they do for the team to reach the status of last year and then to succeed.

The Lady Techsters today are part of a living, breathing legacy, a program that has been built by sweat and tears, 3-pointers and free throws. The players know what everyone expects of them, and they look to exceed every expectation. But when they storm out of the tunnel for their first game this season, all thoughts of the past are put on the bench. The team is not thinking about any legacy but the one they are setting out to create on their own.