Catching Up With Sarah Mannes Homstad

Former Vandy women's basketball standout updates life and career

by Andrew Maraniss

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Part of an ongoing series, catches up with former Vanderbilt women’s basketball standout Sarah Mannes Homstad.

A member of the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame, Homstad played for the Commodores from 1989-92 and helped the ’92 squad win twice in the NCAA Tournament before a loss to Virginia.

Homstad recently took some time for a Q&A to update her life and career: What is your occupation these days?

Homstad: “I’m a self-employed architect, living and working in my hometown of Yankton, South Dakota.”

How has COVID-19 affected you and your family?

“It’s made us less busy in some ways and much busier in others. We have two school-aged kids at home, and while homeschooling has its perks (for them), it’s been more time-consuming for us as parents. We’re spending time trying to understand their various lesson plans, what technology they need to complete different assignments, what needs to be turned in and how to even do that. I hope we’re over the hump on most of that now.

“The golf courses in South Dakota are still open, so they’re golfing a lot. After two weeks, though, you can tell they’re ready for some social interaction that goes beyond what they get from Zoom meetings or Fortnite.

“We’re fortunate that our work and income haven’t been impacted like so many others. At least not yet. I’m self-employed and accustomed to working remotely with consultants and clients. The real challenge has been incorporating my new roles as IT coordinator for our kids and personal shopper for my parents. It’s made me less productive as an architect. Clients are understanding, of course, but it’s frustrating. South Dakota is lagging behind the rest of the country in terms of the spread of the virus, so we’re still bracing ourselves for the first COVID-19 case that we know personally. We’re doing our part by staying strong inside and not spreading the mess around.”

What has been the hardest adjustment?

“The hardest thing has been trying to stay productive at the office.”

What has been the most pleasant surprise in these circumstances?

“One pleasant surprise has been that communities have found ways to engage people despite social distancing. Our small town had a community-wide Easter egg hunt with homes and businesses placing homemade Easter eggs in their windows for people to look for while they’re out getting fresh air. I made some Post-It note artwork for two of our windows and it feels good to take part in something that brings smiles to peoples’ faces.

“It’s also been a pleasant surprise that our grocery store has started allowing online liquor sales.”

Any good books, movies or games to recommend?

“Games: Exploding Kittens is pretty fun. It plays a little like UNO but with the added fun of exploding kittens!

Movies: I highly recommend the four Toy Story movies on Disney+. Our teenager even liked them, which felt like we’d struck gold!

Book: I just finished The Power of Moments which was an interesting read during this historic moment we’re living through.”

What was your all-time favorite moment as a Commodore?

“As a player, it had to be playing in the Elite Eight my senior year. I’ll never forget when a Jostens rep came to our practice at Virginia and fitted us for Final Four rings. I remember thinking, ‘Why would they measure our fingers after practice when they’re all puffy?’ Well, it turned out not to matter that our rings wouldn’t have fit anyway. But that Elite Eight experience was a steppingstone for the 1993 Final Four team. I was lucky to take part in that season, too, because I was working in the athletic department as an assistant SID. The women’s and men’s programs were both at their pinnacle and it was a blast: great players, great coaches, great atmosphere. Now that I know how hard it is to achieve and maintain that level of success – it makes me appreciate those times even more.

“As an alum, a recent highlight was attending the 2019 College World Series with my daughter. We drove down to Omaha to watch Kumar Rocker lead the VandyBoys to their Game 2 win! Before the game I ran into (former football player) Alan Young and it was great catching up and introducing our kids to one another. It was a full-circle Commodore moment that I’ll always remember.

“I stay in touch with a number of former teammates, too, and it’s been great experiencing post-college milestones together.”

What do you miss most in the sports world right now?

“Interesting question, because I truly haven’t given sports much thought lately. I’m bummed that March Madness never got off the ground, because that’s typically my favorite sporting event of the year. As a general sports fan, though, I’ve filled that time with other things (see Exploding Kittens above). I don’t have any interest in rewatching classic games or watching videos of professional athletes working out. I’ve decided that A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) and J-Lo (Jennifer Lopez) are an exception, though, because it turns out J-Lo has a nice feel for fielding grounders and I respect that.”

Any advice or words of wisdom to Commodore Nation to help us get through this?

“Well, we’re all experiencing this pandemic in different ways, so it’s hard to give advice that everyone is going to find helpful. Still, one thing that’s been going through my mind a lot over the past few days has been a quote I’ve used as motivation myself during some tough times: If you’re going through Hell, keep going (Winston Churchill).

“There’s a better future ahead, but we have to get through the mess first. There’s no going around it. So keep putting one foot in front of the next, even if it’s a slogfest. Ask for help when you need it and be there to help others when they need it. We can turn this around if we work together!”

Anything else you’d like to say about your time at Vanderbilt or what you’ve been up to since you left?

“I was extremely proud to graduate from Vanderbilt and I’m proud to this day! When I think of my former teammates and friends at VU, and when I see how the University has positioned itself as a leader in higher education, it’s easy for me to say that I’d choose Vanderbilt all over again!”