No Small Feat
AMES, Iowa – Every day during the season Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly makes out a small card, approximately 5x8 inches in size, before practice. It includes valuable information for the upcoming practice, as well a glimpse at the ultimate goal.
For every single practice, that little card includes the date of the NCAA women’s basketball selection show. Because that signifies the ultimate goal.
“I’m like a kid at Christmas time,” Fennelly said recently after earning another trip to the coveted tournament. “It never gets old, and maybe it should. My thing is if it gets old I should quit. This is what this is all about. It is why you do what you do, every single day. To see the look on those kids’ faces, to see them cheer and to see Iowa State’s name come up on national TV is why we do what we do.”
Each season, 64 of 343 eligible teams are fortunate enough to hear their names called. That is about a 19 percent chance of making it. Simply put, your odds aren’t great.
For the last seven seasons, Iowa State has heard its name called. Some years, like this year, it’s been early in the show. Other years, they’ve had to wait until the end of the brackets.
But the results have been the same each time, with the announcers proclaiming something to the effect of, “Iowa State is back in the tournament again.”
The Cyclones are one of just 13 teams to make the tournament in each of the last seven seasons. It is incredibly elite company, a list of the who’s who of women’s college basketball.
Baylor. Connecticut. DePaul. Duke. Georgia. Iowa State. Marist. Notre Dame. Oklahoma. Tennessee. Texas A&M. Stanford. Vanderbilt.
Fennelly, who has led the Cyclones to 14 tournament appearances in 18 seasons, stresses to his team to enjoy the moment, but not to take it for granted despite the recent success.
“It’s not something you can look at casually,” Fennelly said. “It’s a way that Iowa State gets in the national news and a way for our university to get noticed.”
During the last seven seasons, the Cyclones have made an Elite Eight, Sweet 16 and many memories that the fans still talk about today.
March is about making memories.
The tricky thing is it just isn’t that easy to get there.
Fennelly knows that to make those memories, you have to first hear your name called on that fateful Monday in March. To hear your name called there are many hours in the weight room. There are many practices, approximately 125 in a regular season.
It all starts with practice No. 1, with focus and determination set on being one of the chosen ones on the date on that little 5x8 practice card.