HARTFORD, April 10 – It has become an annual event in downtown Hartford and it doesn’t get old. The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team were saluted and showered with love and adoration Sunday afternoon after winning their 11th NCAA national championship earlier this week.
An estimated 20,000 fans lined the streets in Hartford for the parade for one last opportunity to cheer on their Huskies, who won a fourth straight national championship on Tuesday night with a victory over Syracuse. It was one last chance to show their love to outgoing seniors Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck – the first players in NCAA history to leave their school with four consecutive titles.
“Today was a day of celebration,” Jefferson said. “I would have sat out (in the cold) two or three hours if I had to just to be able to celebrate with our fans one last time, with my teammates and our coaches. We’ve talked about this (four straight titles) for so long and now it is here.”
Jefferson talked about the things she would miss when she leaves Connecticut and many were the off the court memories she shared with her teammates – such as this celebration of excellence in Hartford.
For Stewart, it was one last time to cheer for her in a UConn uniform. The next time we see her in Connecticut, she will likely be dressed in the green and gold of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. Seattle holds the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s upcoming WNBA draft at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
“This was great,” she said. “The weather doesn’t matter because they wanted to see us. It doesn’t get old. Every year is different. Like (WTIC-AM broadcaster) Bob (Joyce) said, you can’t take this for granted. You just need to cherish it.” It was sunny with temperatures in the low 50s Sunday with an occasional breeze. It was chilly in the shade.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma was feeling well and wasn’t able to attend. Associate head coach Chris Daley made no predictions for next year but thanked the fans for their support and the players for their work on and off the court.
“These past four years have been the best four years of our lives,” Stewart said. “We came in with a goal and we did that. We’ll always remember that and we’ll always remember you guys, the greatest fans in the country.”
The parade was produced by the Hartford Business Improvement District, in collaboration with the state of Connecticut and the city of Hartford and a number of civic and business organizations.
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