NCAA basketball history was made this past weekend.
Tara VanDerveer, longtime head women’s basketball coach at Stanford University, became the winningest basketball coach in the Association’s history – since its founding in 1906 – with the Cardinal’s win over Oregon State on Sunday. Not just among women’s teams, but among all NCAA basketball teams.
“I’m very appreciative of all the great players I’ve coached and the great places I’ve been and the attention this brought to women’s basketball,” VanDerveer told ESPN of the distinction.
With 1,203 wins now on her roster, she ousted the previous record-holder, former Duke men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski, from his storied spot. “This is a tremendous accomplishment for Tara VanDerveer, who is already one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of basketball. This is yet another milestone to add to an amazing legacy,” Krzyzewski said to ESPN.
He added: “More important than all the astounding numbers and career accomplishments, she’s positively impacted countless lives as a coach and a mentor. Tara remains a true guardian of our sport.”
This achievement is merely the latest in a lengthy string of them for VanDerveer. Now 70, she has held her coaching position at Stanford since 1985 – save one year, 1996, when she stepped away temporarily to coach the U.S. women’s national team in the Atlanta Olympics. She also led Cardinal to three NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Championships while at the helm.
For her work, she’s been named Coach of the Year numerous times by several distinguished collegiate sports bodies. What’s kept her going all these years, though, are not the accolades or milestones, she says – in fact, “I’m not always really comfortable in the limelight, but I understand that that kind of goes with the job.”
Rather, it’s passion that keeps her going. “I’ve never felt that coaching basketball was a ‘j-o-b’ job,” she said. “I can’t wait to come into the gym. I love coming to practice, love coming to the games and it’s fun.”