ShutMichael Voepel covers the WNBA, girls’s school basketball, and different school sports activities for espnW. Voepel started masking girls’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.
On the finish of each season, Stanford girls’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer thinks she’s accomplished teaching.
“I give up for a few day,” she mentioned, laughing. “I am like, ‘Oh God, I am unable to take this anymore.'”
Then she performs together with her canine, goes for a swim, soaks on the earth round her. And the sensation rapidly passes; she’s already excited about subsequent yr’s staff and its journey.
A coach the previous 45 years, VanDerveer reached a pinnacle Sunday: Stanford beat Oregon State for VanDerveer’s 1,203rd profession victory, passing former Duke males’s coach Mike Krzyzewski for probably the most wins in NCAA basketball historical past.
“She’s wired to do that,” mentioned Jennifer Azzi, who performed for VanDerveer on Stanford’s first NCAA title staff in 1989-90, in addition to VanDerveer’s gold-medal-winning Olympic staff in 1996. “There are simply these coaches who’re in it as a result of it is who they’re, what they do and love each minute of it. Not that there are by no means frustrations or ups and downs. However the core of her is 100% in it.
“Somebody like her does not actually get burned out, as a result of in the end, they’re all the time going for extra. Not in a foul approach, or for her ego. It is simply, ‘I am all the time going to problem myself and have a imaginative and prescient for the place my staff can go.'”
The flexibility to continue to grow and adapting is why VanDerveer is at this peak. She embraced the 3-point shot when it was launched within the Nineteen Eighties. A long time later, she has adjusted to the identify, picture and likeness alternatives and the influence of transfers.
For VanDerveer, teaching basketball hasn’t simply been a labor of affection, however a love of labor. She has picked the brains of each basketball guru she has ever been in a position to spend time with, permitting her to grasp teaching completely different offensive and defensive kinds to match the expertise she has.
She has change into a prestigious establishment at a prestigious establishment.
“I perceive now what a trailblazer Tara is and what an honor it’s to be coached by her,” junior ahead Kiki Iriafen mentioned. “Every single day, I am studying one thing from her, however she’s making an attempt to be taught from us as effectively.”
Tara VanDerveer, who obtained her first win on Dec. 1, 1978, has gained 1,051 video games at Stanford. Her 1,203 whole victories is probably the most throughout NCAA basketball for women and men. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Photos
VanDerveer grew up within the state of New York, the place greater than as soon as she heard her well-meaning mother and father ask, “The place is basketball going to take you?” She performed at Indiana within the Nineteen Seventies, on the daybreak of girls’s school sports activities as we all know them. She took a basketball class there from males’s coach Bob Knight during which she was his most diligent pupil, even going to his practices every day and taking notes.
She wound up again dwelling after school, uncertain what was subsequent. When her father advised she assist coach her youthful sister’s highschool staff, VanDerveer at first demurred, mentioning together with her attribute bluntness that the staff was horrible. However she did it anyway, and the teaching bug bit and by no means let go of her.
After time as an unpaid graduate assistant at Ohio State, VanDerveer was employed as Idaho’s head coach in 1978 and served there for 2 seasons — “I used to be paid $13,000 a yr, and I beloved it” — then went again to Columbus to be the Buckeyes’ head coach. In 1985, she took over at Stanford, the place she has gained 26 convention regular-season championships and three NCAA titles whereas going to the Last 4 15 instances.
That is the fast model, in fact; it wasn’t that straightforward. She was 23 with no apparent approach forward within the sport she beloved in a nascent time for girls’s athletics, and he or she made her personal path. She gained two NCAA titles earlier than age 40, then got here near successful one other a number of instances, however did not get there once more for one more 29 years.
VanDerveer turned 70 in June, and whereas she says, “I do not plan on being an 80-year-old coach,” there’s pleasure and risk surrounding her.
Subsequent season, Stanford and Cal will be part of the ACC. For somebody who for many years has championed West Coast basketball, the demise of the Pac-12 is crushing for her. However VanDerveer desires to be part of the transition and finds one thing to stay up for in it. The ACC, she mentioned with a smile, can now stand for “All Coast Convention.”
“The ACC is a good league for girls’s basketball,” VanDerveer mentioned. “Each rose has a thorn, and the thorn shall be among the journey. However is not it thrilling to consider Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Notre Dame, Miami, Syracuse, Virginia — all of the groups — coming to Stanford?”
Tara VanDerveer, who was enshrined within the Naismith Memorial Basketball Corridor of Fame in 2011, has a .818 successful share and 1,203-267 all-time file. Jim Rogash/Getty Photos
With every win, she’s going to add to her file, however it’s by no means foremost on her thoughts. She nonetheless enjoys apply and breaking down sport movie. She is not motivated to pursue what’s straightforward. Even her down time consists of issues like water snowboarding.
“You are all the time round these younger youngsters,” VanDerveer mentioned when requested whether or not she feels her age, or no matter 70 is “supposed” to really feel like. “Final yr, I used to be doing a ropes course; I am climbing up on this stuff with these youngsters. They had been like, ‘Come on, Tara!’ I am considering, ‘I am unable to do that. I should not be doing this.’ However I did it.”
Is that the competitiveness in VanDerveer?
“It is the craziness!” she mentioned, chuckling. “However if you speak to individuals who do not work, they get depressed. I’ve lots past basketball that I like to do. So I am not apprehensive about once I retire. However I am very proud of what I am doing now. I am simply having enjoyable.”
Tara VanDerveer, high left, and Stanford gained their first NCAA title in 1990, then added a second championship in 1992. Courtesy Stanford Athletics
A couple of decade in the past, she discovered herself so drained after the season, she questioned whether or not she ought to step down. However a outstanding Stanford booster inspired her to as an alternative take extra day without work in the summertime, and preserve power.
“I consider yearly,” she mentioned. “I am within the second yr of a four-year contract, and it is a terrific contract. I really feel very supported at Stanford. I like what I am doing. Final yr was not the ending that we wished. I need to have a terrific yr this yr, after which simply say, ‘Alright, hey, I am up for this subsequent problem.’ Or say, ‘Nicely, possibly not.’ I will know that.”
VanDerveer’s legacy is ready. She might have ridden off into the Bay Space sundown years in the past. However she is firmly rooted within the current of Stanford’s 17-2 season. And nonetheless evolving.
“I believe I’ve preserved the tread on my tires,” VanDerveer mentioned.
Tara VanDerveer surpasses Coach Ok for many wins in school hoops historical past
Stanford celebrates a historic victory as coach Tara VanDerveer passes the legendary Mike Krzyzewski for probably the most teaching wins in NCAA basketball historical past.
For Azzi, a part of the primary recruiting class VanDerveer dropped at Stanford within the fall of 1986, the coach’s longevity and her adaptability are inseparable.
“She’s been by all of the completely different generations, the completely different guidelines, the modifications in society,” Azzi mentioned. “To cell telephones and texting, to the beginning of social media, to the NIL stuff now. She learns about it, after which embraces it to one of the best of her capability.
“She is a very particular coach. In spite of everything this time, she by no means forgets my birthday. And he or she’s all the time that voice that I typically want to listen to.”
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That is what issues most to VanDerveer: The gamers who nonetheless name, who convey their youngsters to see her, who reminisce about what they discovered and ask her recommendation.
“I am not a lot of a collector. I could not even inform you the place nationwide championship rings are, or my Olympic stuff,” she mentioned. “They’re [here] someplace. Off the highest of my head, I could not find them.
“I do have in my exercise room at dwelling a very stunning massive collage of the 1996 Olympics and a collage of the 2021 nationwide championship. I believe footage are enjoyable, however I am not a scrapbook keeper.”
It is all saved away in her thoughts, the reminiscences of every part that led to 1,203 victories and counting.
“I nonetheless love doing clinics, and educating the sport of basketball,” VanDerveer mentioned. “I like to ski. I play bridge with my mother and my sister. My mother’s higher than me, however I am higher than my sister. I like my canine. I’ve a terrific life, and I am a really pleased particular person.
“And I actually like to see the development of our staff and our gamers. I like watching them develop.”