As the Washington State Cougars women's basketball team found out Friday, the best thing about being a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun.
After the Cougars adopted Shania Twain's iconic hit "Man! I Feel Like a Woman," as their anthem during the 2022-23 basketball season, the Pac-12 tournament champs were able to see the legend herself perform in all her glory. Twain gifted the program about 30 tickets near the front of the stage for the Spokane, Washington, stop of her "Queen of Me" tour.
"It's one of the best experiences I've ever had," fifth-year senior Ula Motuga said. "It's something I'll forever cherish. Thank you to Auntie Shania for the tickets, we appreciate it!"
Last month, as a 7-seed in the conference tournament, Washington State beat Utah, Colorado and UCLA to win the Pac-12 tournament for the first time in program history, and the Cougars captured the adoration of fans new and old -- not just for their Cinderella run on the court, but for their super-fandom of Twain off it.
Live on Pac-12 Network, the Cougars belted out in raucous celebration "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" after beating Utah in the quarterfinals, a clip that then circulated on the Internet and garnered the attention of Twain herself.
VIBES 💃 pic.twitter.com/tmi8OgQCqy— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) March 3, 2023
"It pretty much meant everything to our team," said Motuga, who first spurred the team's obsession with the song after singing it in karaoke and using it as her entrance music for the program's Midnight Madness event in the fall. "It represented camaraderie and togetherness and it will forever be our team song."
When Washington State then advanced to the Pac-12 final with a win over Colorado, Motuga invited Twain live on the broadcast to come to their next game and sing with coach Kamie Ethridge in the locker room. Twain couldn't make it, but she did give the Cougs a shoutout on social media when they won the championship.
And so Friday's venture to Spokane was a long time coming. The 57-year-old Twain was heading back on the road to promote her new album, marking the country icon's first tour in five years. It just so happened that her very first stop was Spokane -- close enough to Pullman for a special evening to come together for the team at Spokane Arena.
Many Cougs donned cowboy hats while some showed off their "Man, I Feel Like a Champion" t-shirts that honored Twain and their Pac-12 tournament crown. Twain took care of them by making sure they had great seats to enjoy the performance.
"We're so happy we could be here to support her like she supported us throughout the tournament," said sophomore Tara Wallack, who said she's particularly inspired by Twain as a fellow Canadian.
Of course, Twain played her trademark track, which she acknowledges to this day has been embraced as an anthem for scores of women over the past 25 years.
"The start, 'Let's go girls!' -- if you don't get hyped by that, I'm not sure what can hype you up," Motuga said. "We love Shania, we love that song, and I'm sure that song will go on to continue to inspire many in the future."