If you followed the women’s Gonzaga Bulldogs last season, there is a good chance you heard of/saw Calli Stokes and her redshirt partner in crime Payton Muma celebrating on the bench.
There was a lot to celebrate, and they had different moves for different actions, but those celebrations might be a bit more muted now that Stokes is seeking out playing time in the rotation.
Stokes entered Gonzaga with some nice pedigree. A combo guard/forward out of Redondo Beach, California, she averaged 21.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals, and 3.0 assists per game her junior season (senior year was a no-go due to COVID). She flashed her athleticism by returning to the softball diamond her senior season, partaking in a sport she had left on the side since entering high school.
As is the Gonzaga way, there is a process here, and part of that was redshirting in her first season. This season will be all about the incremental steps going forward, learning and growing as much as possible during practice, and making the most of the limited minutes available.
Between the senior Truong twins, Utah transfer Brynna Maxwell, McKayla Williams, Bree Salenbien, and Esther Little, the Zags are returning six players who saw minutes ranging from starting to limited from last season.
However, with Salenbien recovering from ACL surgery, there is the potential to find some minutes early in the season until Salenbien is fully healthy and ready to go.
Such is the life of a freshman in the system, however. We can probably (and hopefully) expect to see Stokes in the waning minutes of some games. However, with the number of individuals in front of her on the depth chart, it will be up to Stokes to make her mark and showcase why she needs to play more minutes.