Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer is officially the winningest coach in NCAA history.
VanDerveer, 70, earned the record Sunday with Stanford’s win against Oregon State. The Stanford Cardinal beat the Beavers 65-56 in a home game at Maples Pavilion.
“Robin, it’s just a little bit surreal to be honest with you,” VanDerveer told “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts on Monday. “You just take each game one at a time and I’ve loved coaching.”
“And you know, this was a really tough game,” VanDerveer continued. “Oregon State’s a great team and we had some players really step up. [Forward] Kiki Iriafen had 36 points. It was an awesome game and I was just really happy for our fans that we could do it at home. It was a full house and it was a great celebration. It was really amazing.”
Following Stanford’s victory, VanDerveer said she was impressed Oregon State also celebrated her achievement.
“I just also want to say that when I went through the line with the Oregon State players, each one of them congratulated me and I just thought that was first class,” VanDerveer said. “It was just an outpouring of love from the fans and it’s a little bit overwhelming. It was just really an awesome day.”
Stanford’s latest triumph brings VanDerveer to 1,203 wins, passing former Duke men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski for the most wins. Krzyzewski said in a statement afterward that VanDerveer was a “true guardian” of basketball.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment for Tara VanDerveer, who is already one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of basketball. This is yet another milestone to add to an amazing legacy,” Krzyzewski said. “More important than all the astounding numbers and career accomplishments, she’s positively impacted countless lives as a coach and a mentor. Tara remains a true guardian of our sport.”
VanDeveer said hearing from other top sports leaders like Krzyzewski has been “really meaningful,” too.
Throughout her four-decade career, VanDerveer has made it to the NCAA tournament 37 times, led her team to three national championships and even coached the USA Basketball National Team to an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta in 1996. But she’s most pleased with the growth of Stanford’s women’s basketball program.
“I’m most proud of the improvement and just the life impact that Stanford basketball has on the women I coach,” VanDerveer said. “I learned so much from the players on our team and to be at Stanford, around such great coaches, a great university and have my assistants that helped me. Basketball is a team sport and obviously I wouldn’t have accomplished this without great assistance and great, great, great players.”
As a coach, VanDerveer said she ultimately wanted to help young players become the “best versions of themselves.”
“I want to take them to a place that they can’t get by themselves,” she said. “I learned this, I think, from my piano teacher, where I was trying to teach myself and that was hopeless but I was making CDs in a year with a great piano teacher and I just want to help our team and each player be the best they can be.”
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