UC San Diego hires former WNBA coach to lead women's team

Heidi VanDerveer
Heidi VanDerveer

Heidi VanDerveer, currently the head coach Occidental College and former head coach of the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, has been named the new head coach of the UC San Diego women’s basketball program, Director of Athletics Earl W. Edwards announced Friday.

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Heidi VanDerveer

VanDerveer becomes the sixth coach in program history, taking over a Tritons squad that set a school record with 30 wins in 2011-12 and advanced to the NCAA Division II West Regional Championship game.

“We are extremely pleased to have a coach of Heidi VanDerveer’s caliber joining the Triton family,” Edwards said. “She has had a great deal of success at several different levels of the sport and has consistently been able to recruit student-athletes with high academic standards at Occidental. We look forward to building on the recent success of the program and we feel that Heidi is the right person to continue that path.”

VanDerveer, who led the Tigers to four Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Championships in four seasons at Occidental, replaces Charity Elliott, who accepted the head coaching position at Loyola Marymount in April after five successful seasons at UCSD.

“I want to thank Earl Edwards, Wendy Taylor May and Ken Grosse for this tremendous opportunity,” VanDerveer said. “I’m looking forward to getting to work with some extremely talented and motivated young women and I couldn’t be more excited for the future of UCSD women’s basketball.”

VanDerveer comes to La Jolla following an impressive stint at Occidental, where she compiled an overall record of 84-25 (.771) and led the Tigers to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances — including the program’s first-ever NCAA berth in her first season in 2008-09. VanDerveer went 49-7 (.875) in SCIAC play, amassing the highest conference winning percentage of any coach in league history.

She coached three all-conference selections in 2011-12, including SCIAC Player of the Year Makenzie Brandon, who led the league in scoring at 18.1 points per game.

A former WNBA coach, Olympic team scout and assistant for the legendary Pat Summitt, VanDerveer has over two decades of experience at both the collegiate and professional levels. She began her coaching career as a graduate assistant under Summit at the University of Tennessee in 1986 and helped guide the Lady Volunteers to the 1987 NCAA National Championship and another Final Four appearance in 1988.

She then spent six seasons as an assistant at the University of South Carolina from 1988-94, where she helped lead the Gamecocks to three NCAA Tournament appearances. VanDerveer served as the head women’s basketball coach at Eastern Washington University for three seasons from 1994-97, where her tenure was highlighted by back-to-back Big Sky Conference Tournament appearances in 1995 and 1996.

VanDerveer spent 12 years working in the WNBA, beginning with an assistant coaching position with the Sacramento Monarchs in 1997. She was later promoted to head coach before the 1998-99 season and went on to work with the Minnesota Lynx as both an assistant (1999-2002) and head coach (2002). She was a WNBA scout from 2003-05 and served as an assistant with the Seattle Storm in 2006 and 2007.

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