Notre Dame and Cal make history in Citi Shamrock Classic

Niele Ivey and Notre Dame will face Cal in the Shamrock Classic on Friday. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

History will be made Saturday during the inaugural Citi Shamrock Classic between the Notre Dame and Cal women’s basketball teams.

The game, which will take place in St. Louis, Missouri, will air live on NBC and Peacock at 4 p.m. ET, making it the first live broadcast of a women’s college basketball game on the networks ever and the first college basketball game to air on NBC in nearly 25 years.

To top it off, the crew leading the broadcast in the booth will feature all women: Zora Stephenson, LaChina Robinson and Isis Young.

The production team will be led by women as well. For Kaitlin Urka, a producer at NBC Sports who will run point Saturday, the experience will be a special one even after a decades-long career in sports. She’ll be joined by director Sydney Boxell and assistant director Caroline Sayer.

“It’s an honor to get to introduce these exceptional student athletes and their talent on the court to a new audience. I’ve been blessed throughout my career to work on Super Bowls, Olympics, Stanley Cup Finals, and the Tour de France, but getting the chance to make history on a network with a sports tradition as rich as NBC is something truly special,” Urka said.

As for the all-female broadcast team, decades of college basketball experience will shine through Saturday as they take the mic.

“The trio of Zora, LaChina and Isis with their accomplished collegiate basketball backgrounds are perfect to bring the historic nature of this anticipated matchup to viewers, especially young women, across the country on NBC and Peacock,” Urka said.

The first of five classics to be played, it’ll hold special meaning for Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey and Cal coach Charmin Smith. Both grew up in St. Louis: Ivey attended Cor Jesu Academy while Smith attended Ladue Horton Watkins.

Ivey first joined Notre Dame as an assistant back in 2007. She later joined the Memphis Grizzlies as an assistant coach for one season before being named head coach of the Fighting Irish in 2020.

A former guard at Notre Dame, she won a NCAA championship as a player back in 2001 and as an assistant coach in 2018. While her résumé is long and her history with Notre Dame extensive, Saturday will mark a first in her career.

“I would like to thank Citi for the opportunity to highlight our women’s basketball program on this major stage in the inaugural Citi Shamrock Classic,” Ivey said. “This is a full circle moment to come back home to St. Louis where my basketball journey began.

“It’s overwhelming to think about the positive impact this game and the programming around the entire weekend will have in my community. I hope to continue to inspire and empower the next generation of athletes, particularly young female athletes.”