History-making basketball coach VanDerveer opens ILS week


One of Chautauqua’s own is set to open Week Two of the Interfaith Lecture Series, dedicated to the theme “A Spirit of Play.”

And no one may be more suited to speak to that theme than the winningest coach in the history of women’s college basketball — and the   winningest active coach in men’s and women’s Division 1 basketball — Tara VanDerveer.

A lifelong Chautauquan, VanDerveer is one of the top coaches in the history of sport, both collegiately and internationally. She’s  a member of both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and at Stanford University, where she’s been the head women’s basketball coach at since 1985, she holds the title of the Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women’s Basketball.

Over the years, VanDerveer has made several appearances on Chautauqua’s program platforms. She’s spoken to Groupers at Boys’ and Girls’ Club about the history of basketball; she’s been in conversation with three-time LPGA champion Nancy Lopez for a Coalition of Chautauqua County Women and Girls event about “Women and Girls in Sports”; and she’s actively supported Chautauqua’s arts pillar. In 2017, she endowed the Rita and Dunbar VanDerveer Symphony Principal Chair for Flute in honor of her parents (Richard Sherman currently holds that chair for the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra).

Most recently, VanDerveer spoke at Chautauqua in 2022, during a panel focusing on the intersection of human rights and athletics; for her part in the multi-generational panel that took place last July in Smith Wilkes Hall, VanDerveer shared her memories of the time before Title IX — part of the 1972 Educational Amendments that banned discrimination based on sex and gender in educational settings. 

Before Title IX, before those protections, VanDerveer didn’t have a team to play on, despite how much she loved basketball. She urged Chautauquans last year to remember that it’s not just up to women to advocate for gender equality.

“So much of equality is not just women fighting for it,” VanDerveer said last July. “It is men fighting for it, too.”

At Stanford, VanDerveer has led her teams to three NCAA Championships (1990, 1992, 2021) — one of four coaches in the history of the sport to win three titles — she’s advanced the Cardinals to 14 NCAA Final Four appearances, 25 Pac-12 regular-season titles, 15 Pac-12 Tournament crowns and 34 trips to the NCAA Tournament. 

A five-time national coach of the year (1988, 1989, 1990, 2011, 2021) and 17-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, VanDerveer has a 1,186-265 (.817) record in her 44 years as a collegiate head coach and a 1,034-214 (.829) record over 37 seasons. On top of that, she’s a gold medalist as  the coach of USA Basketball at the 1996 Olympic Games. 


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