This is an excerpt from Winning Ways of Women Coaches by Cecile B. Reynaud.
By Tara VanDerveer
During the recruitment and screening process for assistants, it’s critical that you talk about the culture of your program and ensure that any candidate you offer a job to has bought in to the type of environment you have created to be successful. There are certain beliefs that underpin our culture at Stanford that must be supported and promoted every day, by each member of our staff.
We play basketball and coach basketball because it is fun. It is really important that we work hard but also that it remains fun. I want our players to say at the end of practice, “It’s already over?” They have fun and improve. I want to take them somewhere they can’t go by themselves, whether it is through the drills we do, the mentoring we do, or the videos we watch together. I cherish helping players be the best they can be.
At the same time, I get along best with players who are hardworking and unselfish. Basketball is a team game and was invented as a team game. If a player wants it to be all about their stats, I say take up tennis.
We are old school. Our kids tuck their shirts in. We’re on time. They jog going from the court to get water. We are always coaching them in everything we do—how to come out of the game and how to go into the game. These are the types of things that have made our program successful over the years.
I want them to be great teammates. People talk about how what you learn in basketball are your life lessons. I don’t talk about that with our team, per se, but I don’t want them to just be Xs and Os basketball players but great teammates—and people we want to be around and they want to be around. The culture is one of love: love the game, love each other, play hard for each other, be unselfish for each other.
We bring in former players to talk about their experiences and how much they loved being on the team and what they gained from being a part of the program. The sisterhood is the strongest part of our team, and our staff does everything we can to sustain that aspect of our culture on a daily basis.