Stanford, CA – “It’s nothing I set out to do or said that I wanted to do.”
In a recent interview with Mercury News, these are the words of No. 8 Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer that send chills down your spine.
In tonight’s (Feb. 3) monumental win over the University of Southern California, VanDerveer became just the third coach in NCAA basketball history to eclipse the 1,000-career wins milestone. She now sits alongside the most elite of company – including the late Pat Summitt and Mike Krzyewski – in reaching this monstrous clip.
It’s been 13,945 days since she won her first game as a collegiate head coach. While much has inevitably changed in those 13,945 days, VanDerveer’s timeless ability to connect with, motivate and get the most out of young women remains untouched.
And to think her storied career began at the age of 25 – yes, age 25 – at the University of Idaho where she captured the first of 1,000 wins. At age 25, you can hardly rent a car and can still be under your parents’ insurance.
But VanDerveer’s time as a Vandal even at 25 was the springboard into one of the most illustrious coaching careers of all-time. The only time she posted a losing record was in her first season for the Cardinal in 1985-86. The rest? It’s history…literally.
A four-time National Coach of the Year; a 14-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year; two NCAA National Championships; 11 Final Four appearances; 11 Pac-12 tournament titles; 22 Pac-12 regular season crowns – and the unfathomable list of accolades continues.
But there is something even crazier than being a head coach at age 25, coming out on the winning side exponentially more than the losing side, not getting burnt out after 30 plus years in an exhausting business and becoming just the third coach ever to reach 1,000 career wins: it’s how VanDerveer got there.
It wasn’t because she was chasing it.
Success found her because of who she is. Success found her because of her unshakeable belief in young people who, in turn, have an unshakeable belief in themselves. And when that happens, look out.
Tonight, the world of college basketball celebrates you, Coach VanDerveer.