VanDerveer earned her 1,203-career victory Sunday, passing former Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski all-time in the win's column.
What a career it's been for Stanford's Women's Basketball head coach Tara VanDerveer. In her 45th season as Stanford's Women's Basketball head coach, she's accomplished something no other coach has done.
With a 65-56 victory over Oregon State, VanDerveer became the record holder for the most wins in the history of Men's and Womens' college basketball. She's earned 1,203 victories as a head coach at the collegiate level, which is remarkable.
On Sunday evening, every player on the Stanford roster was seen wearing a "1,202... And One" shirt, followed by the Nike Swoosh on the bottom. Their theme for the night was #onlyher, dedicating the entire evening to such an admirable human and coach. She may not love the limelight; however, the entire basketball community showed their admiration for coach VanDerveer.
She's coached some incredible athletes
After the victory, her players, along with the coaching staff, joined her on stage, with a bright display of 1,203 in the background. VanDerveer acknowledged former Stanford Men's Basketball head coach Mike Montgomery was the one person that put her accomplishments into perspective.
On Montgomery, he told VanDerveer "I would have to coach 20 more years and win 25 games a year to reach that."
"It is a big number", said VanDerveer. "I am very appreciative of the great players I've coached, and the great places I've been. The attention that has been brought to Womens' basketball."
Throughout her illustrious career, VanDerveer has coached some of the most elite athletes including Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, Jennifer Azzi, Candice Wiggins, Nicole Powell, Jayne Appel, Kate Starbird, Kayla Pedersen, Val Whiting, and Cameron Brink.
A Massachusetts native, Stanford's head coach grew up near Schenectady, New York. While her parents were adamant that basketball wouldn't take her anywhere at a young age, VanDerveer pursued her dreams. A guard for Albany and Indiana, she took up coaching shortly after completing her undergraduate degree.
Coach VanDerveer has long list of accomplishments and accolades
In 1978, VanDerveer was hired as head coach at Iowa after earning her master's degree at Ohio State. Two years later, she became the head coach at Ohio State for the next five years, where she had a 110-37 win/loss record. In 1985, Stanford hired VanDerveer to be their next head coach of the Women's basketball team.
It was at that moment, Stanford hired one of the most prolific coaches to ever step foot on the court. As part of the Pac-12, she led Stanford to 13 NCAA Final Fours, 14 Pac-12 Conference Championships, and three NCAA Division 1 Championship Titles. For her personal accolades, VanDerveer is a 5x National Coach of the Year, 10x Pac-10 and Pac-12 Coach of the Year, and 2x Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, she acted as the head coach for the United States Olympic team. Coach VanDerveer is a three-time Gold Medalist (1991, 1994, 1996), and in her 45 years of coaching, she has a 1,203- 267 (.818) win/loss record. In 1,470 career games as head coach, VanDerveer only suffered one losing season, which was ironically her first with Stanford during the 1985-1986 season.
Her focus was on her team and players last night
Without star Cameron Brink , Stanford kept the score close with the Beavers, commanding a 28-22 lead at halftime. Sophomore guard Talana Lepolo made a three-point jumper with 6:19 left to go in the third quarter. From there, Stanford never looked back. Lepolo finished with 14 points, six assists, and three rebounds. Even after the game, VanDerveer only wanted to talk about how well her players performed.
No Cameron Brink? No problem. Junior star Kiki Iriafen took over the game, racking up an impressive double-double, which included a career-high 36 points and 12 rebounds. Scoring over 55 percent of the team's total points, Iriafen has finally broken out in her third year as a Cardinal. In the outing, she hit 100 percent of her shots from the three-point line.
Following the victory and milestone, Stanford's head coach donned a custom jacket made by Nike. On the jacket includes tallies, which represents every victory earned in her collegiate head coaching career, along with the Stanford logo.
As for VanDerveer, she was thrilled with Iriafen's breakout performance and the competitiveness from her team in the absence of Brink.
"I love that fact that Kiki [Iriafen] decided today was the day to knock down her three and go back- to back on her three-point shot, said VanDerveer. "Kiki had all All-American performance. She was fantastic." And in her press conference, coach never made it about one single player. Like any other press conference, VanDerveer quickly veered around her historical event and broke down the game.
Tara VanDerveer passes Mike Krzyzewski in the all-time wins column
Congrats to Tara Vanderveer on becoming the all time leader in wins for a NCAA basketball coach! pic.twitter.com/ESfPDFmE9E— Ballislife Womens Basketball (@ballislifewbb_) January 22, 2024
Long before this career milestone, VanDerveer was considered one of the greatest to ever coach the game. With 1,203 career wins, VanDerveer surpasses former Duke Men's Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who finished his career with 1,202 wins. Behind her is UConn Women's Basketball head coach Geno Auriemma with 1,196 career victories. Trailing is the late Pat Summit with 1,098 career wins, and former Syracuse head coach, Jim Boeheim, with 1,015 wins.
"Tara, congratulations. What an amazing achievement. And what's even more amazing is the manner in which you achieved so many victories.
According to Kyle Bonagura, of ESPN, 'VanDerveer has more wins than 355 of the 360 NCAA Divisional 1 Womens' basketball programs.' That stat screams how incredibly accomplished she is. Her dominance amid the evolution of women's basketball is incredible.
She stands for excellence
With Maples Pavilion nearly full, coach VanDerveer received a standing ovation and cheers from the crowd the entire night. A head coach since the age of 24 years old, she's truly a pioneer in Women's basketball. Paving the way for future women in sports, she's set a standard and elevation for not only the conference, but NCAA basketball as well.
With all of her accomplishments, she's notoriously known for connecting with her student athletes, as well as a high-level recruiting. Over four decades of coaching, VanDerveer has been consistent, displaying the same haircut bob year after year. Growing up watching Tara VanDerveer, I've always admired her hard work and excellence that's set the standard for athletes and coaches to come.
Passionate about the game she's loved since the third grade, Tara VanDerveer will forever have an impact on the athletes she's coached. Truly one of the humblest coaches we've ever seen, at 70, she still shows the vision, and discipline she's always had.
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Sara Jane Gamelli is a full-time Sportswriter, Content Creator and Social Media Manager at Ballislife. She has a focus on the NBA, WNBA, NCAA Basketball, and the NFL. Sara Jane currently resides in Connecticut/NYC area with her Cat and Dog. SJ has her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Economics, with a minor in business administration.