Tara VanDerveer is one of the most successful and respected coaches in women’s college basketball history. She has led the Stanford Cardinal to three NCAA championships, 13 Final Fours, and 27 Pac-12 regular season titles. She is also the all-time winningest coach in women’s college basketball, surpassing the legendary Pat Summitt in 2020. She has been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and has received numerous awards and honors for her achievements and contributions to the sport.
But what about her personal life? Is she married? Does she have a family? What are her hobbies and interests outside of basketball? In this article, we will explore the life and career of Tara VanDerveer, and try to answer some of the questions that fans and admirers may have about her.
Early Years and Education
Tara VanDerveer was born on June 26, 1953, in Melrose, Massachusetts, to Dunbar and Rita VanDerveer. She was named after the plantation in Gone with the Wind, a favorite book of her mother. She grew up in West Hill, near Schenectady, New York, with her four siblings: Heidi, Marie, David, and Lisa. She attended Catholic schools and learned to play basketball in fourth grade, when her father taught her the three-player weave. She fell in love with the game and played it whenever she could, often with her brothers and their friends.
She attended Albany Academy for Girls, where she was a star player and a straight-A student. She then went to Indiana University, where she played for the Hoosiers from 1972 to 1975. She graduated with a degree in history and a minor in anthropology. She also earned a master’s degree in business administration from Ohio State University in 1980.
VanDerveer began her coaching career as an assistant at Ohio State in 1976, under head coach Debbie Wilson. She then became the head coach at Idaho in 1978, where she led the Vandals to two AIAW Tournament appearances in two seasons. She moved to Ohio State in 1980, where she coached the Buckeyes for five seasons, winning four Big Ten titles and reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 twice.
In 1985, she was hired by Stanford, where she transformed the Cardinal into a national powerhouse. In her first season, she improved the team’s record from 14-13 to 27-5, and led them to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. In 1990, she guided the Cardinal to their first NCAA championship, defeating Auburn 88-81 in the final. In 1992, she repeated the feat, beating Western Kentucky 78-62 in the title game. She also coached some of the best players in women’s basketball history, such as Jennifer Azzi, Katy Steding, Val Whiting, Kate Starbird, Candice Wiggins, Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike, and Kiana Williams.
In 1995, VanDerveer took a one-year sabbatical from Stanford to coach the U.S. national team, which was preparing for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. She led the team to a perfect 60-0 record, culminating in a gold medal with an average margin of victory of 28.8 points. She returned to Stanford in 1996, and continued to dominate the Pac-12 and contend for national titles. In 2021, she won her third NCAA championship, defeating Arizona 54-53 in a thrilling final. She became the second coach in women’s college basketball history to win three or more NCAA titles, joining Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma.
As of 2023, VanDerveer has a career record of 1,186-265, with a winning percentage of .817. She has won 10 national coach of the year awards, 10 Pac-12 coach of the year awards, and five WBCA district/region coach of the year awards. She has also been named the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award recipient in 2014, and one of USA TODAY’s Women of the Year in 2022.
Personal Life and Interests
VanDerveer has never been married, and has no children. She has said that she considers her players and staff as her family, and that she is very close to her siblings and their children. She has also said that she is not interested in dating, and that she is happy with her single status. She has been very private about her personal life, and has rarely discussed her sexuality or romantic relationships in public. She has, however, been a vocal advocate for women’s rights and equality, and has supported causes such as Title IX, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial justice.
VanDerveer has a variety of hobbies and interests outside of basketball. She loves to read, especially historical fiction and biographies. She also enjoys playing the piano, gardening, hiking, and traveling. She has visited many countries, such as China, Japan, Australia, France, Italy, and Greece. She is also a fan of other sports, such as tennis, golf, and baseball. She has said that her favorite athletes are Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, and Derek Jeter.
VanDerveer is also known for her sense of humor and her witty quotes. She often jokes with her players, staff, and the media, and has a knack for making people laugh. Some of her memorable quotes are:
- “I’m not a morning person. I’m barely an afternoon person.”
- “The only thing worse than a bad call is a makeup call.”
- “I don’t like to lose. I don’t even like to lose an argument.”
- “I don’t care how much money you have, you can’t buy experience.”
- “Basketball is like a beautiful woman. You can’t live with her, and you can’t live without her.”
Tara VanDerveer is one of the greatest coaches in women’s college basketball history, and a legend in the sport. She has dedicated her life to basketball, and has inspired generations of players, coaches, and fans. She has also been a role model and a leader for women, and has fought for equality and justice. She is not married, and has no children, but she has a large and loving family of friends and colleagues. She is also a well-rounded and interesting person, who has many hobbies and interests outside of basketball. She is a woman of excellence, passion, and humor, and a true icon of the game.