Stanford's Tara VanDerveer looks back on winningest head coaching career in college basketball

Dustin Dorsey Image
Thursday, April 11, 2024
Stanford's Tara VanDerveer looks back on winningest coaching career
Legendary Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer spoke following her retirement announcement after 38 seasons with the university.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- The record for most wins in college basketball by a head coach will stand for the moment at 1,216 wins.

A record currently held by Stanford Women's Basketball Coach Tara VanDerveer who announced last night that she is officially retiring.

Stanford is one of the most prestigious universities with an incredibly successful athletics program and Tara VanDerveer sits right at the top of that history.

During her incredible 45 year career, she won three national championships and 1,216 wins.

RELATED: Tara VanDerveer, winningest basketball coach in NCAA history, retires after 38 seasons at Stanford

The term greatest of all time gets thrown around a lot in sports, but Stanford's Tara VanDerveer has earned that title.

But now, the GOAT is calling it a career.

"My 38 years as head coach as of the Stanford University Women's basketball has been nothing short of magical," VanDerveer said.

A journey that started when VanDerveer took over the Stanford program in 1985.

She remembers the conversation she had with her father when she took the job.

"He proceeded to tell me that it was impossible to win at Stanford and the job was a graveyard job," VanDerveer said. "My father was right about one thing, the Stanford job involved digging - but instead of a graveyard job, it has been a goldmine job."

One featuring many final four appearances and national championships and the most wins of any college basketball coach ever.

But VanDerveer said what was even more important than the victories were the people.

That feeling is mutual with her players and fellow coaches.

"She's meant a lot to me over the years," VanDerveer's first Stanford recruit and current Asst. Coach Katy Steding said. "She was first a coach and then a mentor, a friend and a colleague. She's everything that you want in a coaching relationship."))

"As people say, she's the GOAT, one of the greatest of all-time," Stanford Women's Basketball Forward Kiki Iriafen said. "And now that's she's stepping back she'll receive all the flowers that she deserves. But me personally, I'm super grateful to be coached by her."

VanDerveer has made a lasting impact in basketball as a whole.

There were no girls' teams when she was growing up.

Now, the game is more popular than ever.

"The game is more than one or two teams or one or two players," VanDerveer said. "It's really exciting to see where we are and I feel like I'm leaving it in a good place."

She says coaching is rewarding, but it's hard work and it was time for her to retire.

The head coaching desk at Stanford will be filled by new faces down the road.

Tara VanDerveer hopes the legacy that she leaves behind makes a difference.

"There is a young girl out there who will watch or read about Stanford Women's Basketball and her dad will say, 'basketball will take you everywhere'." VanDerveer said.

VanDerveer told us back when she was set to break the wins record that the goal of the team was to make this year the best year ever.

Now that she's calling it a career, it's safe to say she was able to accomplish that.

The team will look within as they lock in on Kate Paye to take over as head coach.

Paye played for VanDerveer in the 1990s and then coached alongside her for the past 17 years.

She told us on Wednesday she looks forward to continuing the legacy of excellence on the farm.

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