Sunday afternoon at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Ann Meyers Drysdale sat on the opposite side from where she was 35 years ago.
In 1978, her UCLA Bruins were the AIAW national champions. On Tuesday, she'll call the Oklahoma City women's basketball regional championship game for Westwood One.
Meyers Drysdale has gone through a lot as a female in sports — from when she first started playing basketball on the playground, to making the USA National Team as a high schooler to marrying former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale.
But somewhere along the way, she learned how to ignore criticism.
Question: Did you learn a lot about basketball from your dad and your brother? They both played, right?
Answer: “My dad played at Marquette, and I have five brothers and five sisters. Sports were a great outlet for our family. It wasn't just basketball. We played baseball and football and kick the can. We were always playing some kind of game. I was in between two boys, so I played with them and their friends a lot. My older sister, Patty, though, opened up so many doors for me because she was the one playing volleyball and basketball and softball and with a lot of other women that wasn't totally accepted, but we just thought it was natural because she did it.
“My younger sister, Kelly, who went to Pepperdine on a basketball scholarship, she played Little League Baseball but had to get that OK'd. She was years behind me, and four years later, it was still news that a young girl was playing football or baseball or basketball. What I was doing was nothing different. I was always playing against the guys, so when I was playing against the women, I had a lot of confidence in my ability.”
How did growing up with that help you on your three-day tryout for the (NBA Indiana) Pacers in 1980?
“I went through it in high school and my whole life — going against guys on the playground — so it was really nothing different. But in high school I had the opportunity to play on the boys' high school team. When you're in high school, your body changes, your emotions change, your social outlook and things that are said about you. So when I had people convince me not to try out for the boys' team during my senior year, it stayed with me.