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A date with the WNBA

Sharing my hoops passion with my dad is priceless

Posted: Friday June 15, 2007 10:04AM; Updated: Saturday June 16, 2007 1:51AM
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My dad and I have a summer sports tradition that began years ago as my Father's Day gift to him but no longer qualifies as such since he always insists on paying for everything. Every year we both drive northeast into the molten heat of the earth's core, otherwise known as Sacramento, to watch a WNBA game together.

Father's Day Memories
• L. ANDERSON: My uncle, the pro QB
• WERTHEIM: Hoosier Daddy
• DEITSCH: TRUE DAD, Don Mattingly

The adventure combines two of my father's great enthusiasms: driving (it's a one-hour drive for me; about 2 1/2 for him) and women's basketball. Long before Title IX, Dad, who was a long-time member of the local high school board, pushed to get girls sports programs funded. He eventually succeeded, and that made all the difference to me. To him, too, it seems. My parents were big supporters of the ABL's San Jose Lasers while that team existed, and they have been attending Stanford women's basketball home games for years. (Mom and Dad also go to every Stanford home football and Dad to every Stanford home baseball game.)

Dad and I choose our WNBA dates based mostly on mutual availability, though all else being equal, Dad would like to watch the Monarchs play another team with a Stanford grad. (His favorite Monarch is Nicole Powell, Stanford Class of '04.)

Our usual rendezvous point is the Virgin Sturgeon, a restaurant on the Sacramento River. Because we're always early for dinner, we get a seat at a table perched above the water, the perfect place to chat while watching jet skis and leisure boats ply the water. I don't particularly remember the food, the games, or the opponents, but I do remember our conversations, the heat, the relief of getting inside air-conditioned Arco Arena, and my dad's occasional bursts of pure glee at just being there, seeing women play professionally.

Dad, who is 78, has been to thousands of sporting events in his lifetime, yet the thrill never seems to desert him. He is giddy about wins, philosophical about losses, but more than anything he is happy to be there with me as part of the crowd. Our next date is July 1, when the Monarchs host Minnesota.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. This time the tickets are on me.