SPOKANE, Wash. — The coronavirus pandemic has made our lives rather inconsistent, and birthdays in the traditional sense have been affected.
Thankfully for Gonzaga women's basketball head coach Lisa Fortier, one of her traditions on her players' birthdays has been able to remain the same.
She is one of the most consistent coaches in all of college basketball of wishing her players—both past and present—happy birthday on Twitter.
This year, Lisa Fortier wrapped up her 15th season as a member of Gonzaga’s women’s basketball's staff. She became an assistant at GU in 2007. That’s when the birthday shenanigans began.
"It started because when I was an assistant coach, I used to make them all cupcakes," said Lisa. "I was the one who knew when the birthdays were coming. Then the players started making requests. Katelan Redmon is famous for this. She asked me to make rice pudding. I had no idea how to make rice pudding. I tried my best!"
Lisa has perfected all sorts of birthday treats since then.
Even though she became Gonzaga’s head coach six years ago, she still bakes treats for every current GU player on their birthday. For both current and former players, she sends out a tweet for their birthday as well.
"We preach family at Gonzaga. We care and that you’re part of something," said Fortier. "It’s not just the cliché about the family. We want to put a little bit behind the words. Just to make sure that the gestures and the actions support what we're talking about all the time."
Fortier keeps track of every players’ birthday on her phone calendar—but she admits that she’s sometimes human.
"More important than the Facebook message or the tweet or the Instagram post, is that I text them. That’s the real idea is that I want to make sure that I get to them, and usually I do, but there’s been times where I’ve missed or I messed them up. They seem to always let me know," Lisa said with a chuckle.
Over 15 years, Lisa has coached over one hundred players and has helped the program become one of the most consistent on the west coast. Her players’ birthdays are a moment for Lisa to remember the journey that they have helped take her on.
"I love them," Lisa said of her players. "They’ve shaped me as a person, they’ve shaped me as a coach and continue to shape the program. It fills up my cup a little bit, and I think it fills up there’s. I’ve grown up at Gonzaga just like they’ve grown up there and since then. It’s kind of fun. We’re kind of walking this path together with this same common denominator."