Storm Q&A: Heidi VanDerveer
Seattle Storm Assistant Coach Heidi VanDerveer was released from the final year of contract by the Storm yesterday, preceding today's announcement that she has been named associate head coach at San Diego State University. A former head coach at the Division I level at Eastern Washington, VanDerveer returns to the collegiate setting to work with veteran Head Coach Beth Burns, who has worked with VanDerveer's sister Tara, the head coach at Stanford University.
"Heidiís contributions to our coaching staff and the organization these last two seasons have been invaluable and I canít thank her enough for her hard work, creative insight and unending support," Storm Head Coach Anne Donovan said in yesterday's release. "While I hate to lose a coach of Heidiís caliber, I understand her desire to pursue other coaching opportunities at this time and I wish her the best of luck in her next endeavor."
storm.wnba.com: How exciting is the opportunity you'll have to coach at San Diego State?
VanDerveer: I think that basically I love basketball and I've had a tremendous passion, have a tremendous passion for it. The opportunity to work with Coach Burns at San Diego State - I've known her for 25 years - is just a great opportunity and one I have a hard time passing up based on being able to share my passion for the game with young people. I've had a tremendous opportunity in Seattle. I've worked with some of the best players in the world, some of the hardest-working players. Obviously the opportunity to work with Anne and (Assistant Coach) Shelley (Patterson), I couldn't have asked for more in that respect. Working with Anne has taught me a lot about not just basketball but about people and the same with Shelley. I think that the consistency that Shelley has, the personality Shelley has, her passion for the game that we share - that the three of us share - has been a unique experience, one that would be hard to duplicate.
Is there a tugging at the heartstrings between the WNBA and the college game?
No doubt. I think the pro game has a lot of unique opportunities, unique experiences. It's all basketball. You're working with typically adults in a working environment just like any profession would. College is a little different. You're working with young people who maybe need a little more direction. Your energy is the same and your passion is the same, it's just your passion is directed differently.
The opportunity in Seattle with the fans and the tremendous amount of energy that is in this city for the Storm - I worked at Tennessee, where it was the same. Lady Vol fans are notorious for being all over, just like Storm fans - notorious in a good way. For being the fabric of the community, just like Big Orange. I'll miss that tremendously. Again, the opportunity to work with Anne and Shelley I will miss tremendously and these players. But I think that, in the long run, this is a great opportunity for me. I appreciate the Storm organization and (Chief Operating Officer) Karen Bryant, really, giving me the opportunity to pursue something that is really near and dear to my heart.
Was it difficult to make the decision to leave the Storm despite the opportunity at San Diego State?
Oh, yes. Just the basketball part is a part. The personnel part. Being able to work with Anne and Shelley. I so much enjoy that and I couldn't ask for somebody better to share an office with. By moving to San Diego, I also am giving up an opportunity to live in Northern California where my sister's a block away. I also had an opportunity to work with USA Basketball as a scout. So when you ask is this a decision of the heart, it really is. It's not an easy decision. It's not a no-brainer. It has nothing to do with anything other than, when I look in the mirror every morning, I see myself as a college coach. I see myself as a coach first, but I think that really was ultimately, when you weigh it, the deciding factor. I'm giving up a tremendous opportunity. I understand that. I don't live with regrets. I'll regret it based on the people, but I'm also very excited about having the chance to work with Coach Burns and her staff and the people I know down there and their team. They've got a great young team, so I'm excited about that too.
What will you most miss about the Storm?
I think that the environment, the commitment to winning. I've worked in different organizations. I think that Seattle's commitment to winning is definitely, if not the finest, close to the finest in the league. I really think that, in all honestly, working with Anne and Shelley. To be able to come to work every day and be excited about the people you're working with - and (Strength and Conditioning Coach) Ryan (Hite) and (Director of Basketball Operations) Missy (Bequette) and (Equipment Manager) Betsy (Butterick) and our staff - I think that's what you want as a worker. You want to enjoy the atmosphere. I think that's what I'll miss the most and what I appreciate the most. The winning - that comes and goes. I don't know any team in the WNBA that's been undefeated the last two years. I do regret not winning a championship. I think that when we started two years ago when I was here, we talked about winning a championship. That's the one regret I do have, but I don't regret any day that went by that I didn't come to work and was not excited about the people I was working with.
Is Stanford on the schedule any time in the near future?
(Laughs.) No, we don't schedule Stanford now. I hope not. I don't think that would be a good thing. Not healthy for me and Tara. We're too competitive for that. She wouldn't take it easy on us and we wouldn't take it easy on her.
Will you still watch the Storm?
I'll be a Storm fan. I'm really excited. I think that it will give me an opportunity to appreciate the WNBA again and differently. I'll watch it as a whole and I'll always be a Storm fan. It will be fun to see how young players like Katie Gearlds and Tanisha (Wright) evolve and how Ashley Robinson develops and see the best player in the world on a day-to-day basis in Lauren (Jackson) and one of the best point guards in the world in Sue (Bird) - see what comes of them in the next five years, and Betty (Lennox). Betty, we'd shoot every pregame with Ryan, our strength coach. I'll miss those things, but it will be fun to see how they evolve.