As Erica McCall signed yet another autograph with a smile on her face Wednesday night at Firestone Grill in Bakersfield, someone asked if her hand was getting tired.
A little, she admitted, but it was no different than launching shot after shot on the practice court.
McCall, a Ridgeview graduate and the second-round pick of the Indiana Fever during last week’s WNBA Draft, made a stop in her hometown to say hello – and good-bye – and thank you – to the town that raised her before heading for her first professional training camp.
“This means the world to me,” said McCall, who was drafted out of Stanford. “All the support is truly amazing; it’s the reason I kept going. Bakersfield is an amazing place with amazing people.”
McCall leaves today for Indiana, and training camp begins Sunday. The preseason begins May 2, just 32 days after her season ended at Stanford in the Final Four and 19 days after she attended the WNBA Draft in New York.
“It’s been tiring, emotionally and physically,” McCall said. “But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little girl, and I’m excited for the next step.”
Even as McCall leaves, her name will stay in town, and not just because dad Greg McCall coaches Cal State Bakersfield’s women and brother Justin will play for the CSUB men.
The McCalls presented Firestone Grill manager Cory Billingsley with a signed jersey from Erica’s days with the U.S. national youth team that will be framed and hang on the Firestone walls next to jerseys of other famous local athletes.
“It’s pretty cool,” McCall said. “I used to see jerseys hanging up at different pizza parlors around town, and for me to have mine in this place is really special to me.”
More than anything, Wednesday was a time for McCall to see old friends, teammates, coaches and teachers and to meet and sign autographs for younger fans who hope they can be the next Erica McCall.
“Bakersfield is why I’m the person I am today,” she said. “I’ll never stop repping this place.”