VanDerveer, Azzi recognized

Cardinal Women’s Basketball coach TARA VANDERVEER was honored Wednesday, Nov. 16,  with a 2011 Athena award, given by the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce.  The award honors the achievements of outstanding professional and business women who not only achieve success in their own careers, but who open doors for women. The awards luncheon, held at the Garden Court Hotel in downtown Palo Alto, started at 11:15 a.m., a bit earlier than usual, because VanDerveer  had to get to practice.

“I’ve been called a lot of things, but I have to say, I’ve never been called a goddess,” VanDerveer said, adding that Athena had been her favorite character in Greek mythology since elementary school.

Jennifer Azzi hugs Tara VanDerveer as members of the 1990 National Championship team reunite during a win over win over USC on Feb. 7, 2010 at Maples Pavilion. Photo Credit: Marc Abrams

VanDerveer said her style of coaching through positive reinforcement reflects the wisdom passed down by her mother, who once told her that  “tearing others down doesn’t make you any better.”

Palo Alto Mayor Sid Espinosa, who presented VanDerveer with a proclamation from the city, thanked her for the inspiration that “changes lives. You do so much for the community in a sincere and honest way.”

JENNIFER AZZI, who played women’s basketball for Stanford from 1987-1990, seems to be following in Coach VanDerveer’s footsteps.  Azzi was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, seven years after VanDerveer was inducted.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15,  just a few months after VanDerveer was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s class of 2011, Azzi, head women’s basketball coach at University of San Francisco,  has been nominated for the 2012 Naismith Hall of Fame class. It is still a long way from nominee to finalist, but our fingers are crossed.


— Elaine Ray