By Donal Ware
SAN ANTONIO, TX – It was 8:15 a.m. on Sunday morning when the charted flight carrying the two-time defending CIAA and Atlantic Regional Champion Shaw Lady Bears left from Raleigh-Durham International Airport with its final destination to San Antonio.
For the last eight years, the Shaw women’s basketball program has been used to taking flights. This is the fourth time Shaw has made it to the NCAA Division II Elite 8. In that time, the Lady Bears have flown to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Arkansas, Missouri, California, and Pennsylvania. Just after Christmas, the Lady Bears flew to West Texas then to New Mexico to take on Division I New Mexico State where they played a respectable game losing 61-53.
Back in 2005 when the Lady Bears made it to the Elite 8 for the first time, Willie E. Gary, Chairman of the Shaw Board of Trustees allowed the team to fly on his private jet, Wings of Justice, to Hot Springs, AR, which is about 60 miles from Little Rock.
But this year instead of going directly to San Antonio, Shaw took a 30-minute detour and made a stop at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport to pick up the Lander University women’s basketball team, who is also playing in the Elite 8.
With a lot of commercial flights being taken during spring break, the NCAA booked the flight for Shaw from RDU and suggested to Shaw head coach Jacques Curtis that they allow Lander to fly with them, which would save the NCAA money.