Former forward Jenn Wirth makes a shot on the basket during a previous fanfest.

This coming Saturday, the Gonzaga women’s basketball team will open its season with the Numerica Fan Fest.

Fan Fest will be the first time Zag fans will be able to see the 2021-22 women’s team in action and the first time fans will be back in the McCarthey Athletic Center for a women’s game since before the pandemic began.

“I think one thing our university does best is the environment we create for our student-athletes, students and community members,” said Lisa Fortier, head coach for the GU women’s basketball team. "Being able to play in front of the fans and provide for the community and students is something we are all looking forward to.”

The Kennel is expected to be packed with community members and a raucous student section to welcome the team and help kickoff the new season. Festivities will kick off at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, in the Kennel.

The Spokane and GU community will be able to see the team in multiple festivities that are planned out throughout the event. As in years past, fans will be treated with the opportunity to meet the team and coaching staff in player introductions and hear some words about the upcoming season.

After hearing from Coach Fortier and some of the members of the team, the games begin. Members of the team will be pitted against one another in a three-point contest, where contestants will have to shoot five three-point shots from a certain number of predetermined locations around the 3-point arc.

Upon the conclusion of the 3-point contest, a skills competition will take place that will put players through a variety of skills to see who can finish the fastest. Skills that will be put to the test are dribbling through cones, passing through a hoop and making a basket from three spots on the court.

“Getting able to see a packed Kennel when I got here and then having to play last year in front of cardboard cutouts was tough,” Cierra Walker, senior guard for the women’s basketball team, said. “I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Gonzaga community, the loudness, the fans — everything.”

Once the skills competition is complete, Zag fans will be able to see how this year’s team matches up with one another in a 5-on-5 scrimmage. The scrimmage will feature all the members of this year’s team split into two teams that will play a short game as a preview for the fans.

Fans can expect a fast paced, up-tempo team that is looking to always attack this season. 

“I think we are going to push tempo even more than we have in the past this year,” Fortier said. “Also, seeing new players step into roles on the team is exciting.”

The Zags welcome a plethora of newcomers to the roster this season, including five freshman and one transfer senior. The new group has big shoes to fill this season after an impressive season from the Zags last season culminating in a West Coast Conference (WCC) regular season championship from the team last season.

The new group this year for the Zags brings something new to the table, but still brings that trademark mentality and toughness that Zags fans have become endeared to over the years.

“I think fans can expect to see a lot of competitiveness and edge from our team,” Walker said. “We are all really excited to get back in the kennel and to play in front of the fans for the first time in a long time."

The Zags come into Fan Fest with high expectations after last year’s tough finish to the season and are looking to build on the success of last year this season. Doors for the Numerica Fan Fest open on Saturday at 3 p.m. with festivities scheduled to begin an hour later.

Tommy Connolly is a staff writer.