VanDerveer’s Journey from Hoosier to Cardinal

Posted: February 1, 2013 by srcrone in IU Women's Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Tara VanDerveer grew up in a small town that didn’t have sport teams for girls yet; however that didn’t stop her from becoming the nationally known Stanford head coach that she is today.
tara with team

Now, who should be given the credit for teaching her everything she knows?  Just the most respected and admired head coach to ever come through Bloomington, Indiana… Coach Knight.

Even though VanDerveer didn’t start her college career at Indiana, she did end up making a great decision by transferring here in 1972 for her sophomore year of college.  Her impact on the team was almost immediate because Indiana received a bid from the AIAW and ended up going all the way to the Elite 8 before being beaten by the future Champions.  After three years at Indiana, she just couldn’t give up on her love of basketball; she wanted to coach.

While attending Indiana, VanDerveer was secretly attending Knight’s practices since the Women’s coach at the time mimicked his practices after Knights.  VanDerveer just wanted to get a little glimpse of what she was going to be doing that afternoon.  Knight’s influence didn’t stop there.  After she decided she wanted to coach, VanDerveer signed up for Knight’s coaching class.  This is where Knight’s influence was the greatest.

VanDerveer only received two offers after applying to over 20 graduate assistant programs, a non-paid position.  She ended up taking one at Ohio State coaching the JV. Old Dominion noticed her 8-0 season as the JV coach and offered her a job; however, she turned it down and took a lower paying job at Ohio State so she could finish her Master’s Degree in Sport Administration.

stanford national champion

With her coaching career just starting to gain some momentum, she applied and received an Idaho head coaching position.  She stayed there for 2 years before returning back to Ohio for the next five years as head coach. VanDerveer ended up turning their program around and coaching the Buckeyes to three consecutive conference titles.

However, here is where her coaching career became a legacy.  In 1985, she was hired on at Stanford University where she stepped into a battered and destroyed program that needed a lot of help.  After having two consecutive losing seasons, she turned it around.  VanDerveer was finally playing her recruits and winning… a lot!  After those rough couple of years, she has never looked back.  She has received 24 consecutive bids from the NCAA which has lead her to two national championships along with multiple elite eight and final four appearences.  Not to mention the many conference championships throughout the years.

VanDerveer’s mark of excellence hasn’t just been left on Stanford.  In 1996, VanDerveer coached the Women’s Olympics Team to a 60-0 season and a gold medal.  She was the first coach to have a team play a whole season together before the Olympics.  In previous years, the team was compiled only a few weeks before the Olympic Games and therefore limiting practice time.

olympic gold

In the past two decades, Tara VanDerveer hasn’t only been adding on to her win column which currently sits at an amazing 881 wins with 729 of them at Stanford University, she has also been adding to her ever growing award column.

Beginning in 1995, VanDerveer was inducted into the Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame.  In 2002, she was elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.  In 2010, she was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.  In 2011, VanDerveer was named the WBCA Division I Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year, named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and named Naismith College Coach of the Year.

Tara VanDerveer is continuously coaching Stanford to wins and NCAA appearances and the respectable Stanford University.  Beginning at Indiana, VanDerveer started building her style of play along with her style of coaching which she has stuck with for many years.  Her philosophy isn’t just putting in the work to get better; it’s putting in hard work to get better.  This mindset along with tremendous determination has helped her become the successful and admired person she is today.

hall of fame


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