Read about more Gonzaga fans in the story ‘Fandemonium‘ from the Spring 2011 Issue.
Marcus Riccelli (’00) has a Gonzaga-themed guest room, decorated with a quilt made of all his Gonzaga T-shirts.
“The fun was being right in the mix at the beginning of the basketball program’s historic run,” Riccelli says. “We didn’t have any expectations, just the hope of doing really well in the conference and a chance at an automatic bid. I remember gathering around a radio with a bunch of my friends in De Smet Hall, listening to the first round of the West Coast Conference tournament. I have a clear memory of the announcer’s call as Matt Santangelo dribbled three quarters of the court to sink a three-point buzzer-beater to beat Loyola Marymount by one in overtime. The whole building erupted.”
Sometimes, just getting to the games begets great tales. After graduation, Riccelli was living in Washington, D.C., when Gonzaga played in the NCAA tournament in Memphis. “We beat Virginia in the first round, and I told Chris Fiori and Marie Wyffels (both ’00), who were also living in D.C., that I had tickets to the Indiana State game, and we needed to make the 13-hour drive. Only when we arrived, did I admit I didn’t have tickets. After they stopped chasing me around the parking lot, we managed to find tickets, and all ended wonderfully.”
Basketball and community
Jim Ringwood’s history with Gonzaga basketball goes back so many years, he remembers basketball games in the gym where the Magnuson Theater is now.
A 1958 Gonzaga graduate, Ringwood raised cattle and grew wheat on the family farm outside of Sprague, Wash. So in the 1960s and 70s he refereed high school basketball, until his own sons were old enough to play. He quit reffing in those years so he could watch his children play, but eventually returned to calling games. “It made the game more interesting than ever, because I really knew what to look for.”
Though it’s a 100-mile round trip from the family farm to Gonzaga, Ringwood became a serious Zags fan in 1990. He took his first trip to the NCAA tournament in 1999. Gonzaga was playing in Phoenix where many in the audience did not yet know the Zags well. “If you were wearing any GU gear at all, you would get bombarded with questions the minute you stepped out of your hotel room. I must have had a dozen people stop me on my way to breakfast in the morning. ‘Where is that school?’ ‘How big is it?’ ‘Where can I get a hat like that?’ I said to myself, ‘Gee, I guess this is a big deal.’ ”
His favorite Zags moment? Aside from the famous Calvary tip-in, Ringwood singles out “Adam Morrison with his bank shot at the buzzer against Oklahoma State in the Battle in Seattle 2005. They won 64-62.”
Ringwood’s interest in basketball only deepens. If there’s a player he wants to see, perhaps a son or grandson of someone he knows, he’ll attend a high school game anywhere in the region. He’s there to support the player and the family, he’s there to build community.