STANFORD, Calif. – Tara VanDerveer has never coached for the milestones or anything else that brings attention to her rather than the players she loves to lead.
That’s why the Hall of Fame Stanford coach is thrilled her latest memorable moment will probably happen in Mexico this week with little fanfare, away from the sports-crazed Bay Area and her program’s loyal fan base at Maples Pavilion.
“That’s fine with me,” VanDerveer said. “I’m fine just kind of being the person behind the scenes.”
VanDerveer can become the fifth women’s basketball coach to reach 900 victories as early as today against Florida Gulf Coast in Puerto Vallarta. She stands at 899 wins after the sixth-ranked Cardinal (5-1) defeated Purdue in the Hardwood Tournament of Hope on Tuesday.
VanDerveer would join the exclusive company of Pat Summitt, Jody Conradt, C. Vivian Stringer and Sylvia Hatchell in the 900 wins club. Many figure VanDerveer will coach long enough to reach 1,000.
“Nine hundred wins is just such an incredible number, an unbelievable achievement,” California coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “But what’s even more impressive to me, now that I have a close-up view of Tara in action, is the remarkable way she prepares her team. She has done so much to advance women’s basketball.”
“I’d have to be 500 years old to get to 900 wins,” Cal Poly coach Faith Mimnaugh quipped.
Not that VanDerveer (899-204) is counting – except that she keeps getting asked about the feat. She is 747-153 at Stanford.
She also spent two seasons at Idaho, her first time as a head coach, then five at Ohio State.
VanDerveer, who turned 60 in June, won No. 800 on Dec. 22, 2010, so plenty of people figure she will get to 1,000, perhaps only a few years down the road.
“I’m going to coach as long as it’s something I enjoy doing,” she said.
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