HOUSTON -- Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer, who grew up in Schenectady, was honored as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2011 class announced Monday at the Final Four.
Also part of the class were former NBA defensive standout Dennis Rodman, a five-time champion with the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons; former Dream Team member Chris Mullin; coaches Tex Winter, innovator of the triangle offense, and Philadelphia University’s Herb Magee; longtime NBA and ABA star Artis Gilmore; former Portland Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis; Olympic gold medalist Teresa Edwards; Harlem Globetrotter Reece “Goose” Tatum; and Boston Celtic Tom “Satch” Sanders.
For VanDerveer, 57, Monday’s announcement was bittersweet, coming just hours after her Stanford team lost 63-62 to Texas A&M in a national semifinal in Indianapolis.
“This is kind of a tough morning to be a basketball coach for me waking up after our loss last night,” she said on a conference call. “This opportunity to be enshrined in Naismith is an incredible honor, and I’m overwhelmed by it.”
In December, VanDerveer became the sixth woman to get 800 coaching victories.
“It’s the ultimate compliment to a coach or basketball player,” she said. “I’m humbled and honored. You should be really excited about it, but I wish it hadn’t come on this day. I’m not feeling great about myself or how we played. You go back and think about all the things I could have done or should have done. The sun didn’t come up this morning here.”
In a 2008 question-and-answer interview with Dave Kiefer of the San Jose Mercury News, VanDerveer said she was the oldest of five girls in a Schenectady family.
"My parents would take us to the ‘Y’ on weekends and swim and play racquetball and stuff like that. Honestly, I competed academically. I studied a lot. I learned board games and played chess, bridge, scrabble and things like that. But athletically, it was very limited.
"Always, growing up, I loved to play everything. When you were little, it was OK. But as I got older, there were fewer and fewer girls. After a while, I was the only girl and it was all boys. Then they wouldn’t let me play because I was a girl. But I had the best basketball and if they wanted to use my ball, then I’d play."
She attended the Milne School in Albany in ninth grade, before her family moved to Niagara Falls.
"Before we moved, the men’s basketball coach and gym teacher wrote: 'To my best basketball player in the ninth grade, boy or girl.' " VanDerveer told the Mercury News.
"Honestly, it was painful, because I loved to play, but there were no teams for girls."
VanDerveer also noted that in her seventh grade yearbook, "the best boy player wrote the weirdest thing. He wrote: 'You will go to the Olympics in basketball some day.' " She later went on to coach the U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team in 1995-96.
She returned to the Capital Region for her first year in college, attending the University at Albany. She played basketball for the Great Danes. "I jumped center, I was the leading scorer, the leading rebounder, the leader turnover-er, the leading shot-blocker. But I was miserable because I wanted a different experience, I wanted a team experience," she told the Mercury News. She then transferred to Indiana University.
VanDerveer's coaching jobs were at the University of Idaho and Ohio State before Stanford.