Storm Q&A: Heidi VanDerveer
New Seattle Storm Assistant Coach Heidi VanDerveer is no stranger to the WNBA, having spent six seasons on the sidelines between Sacramento and Minnesota, including a season and a half as head coach of the Monarchs and a half a season as head coach of the Lynx. VanDerveer, whose sister Tara is the legendary head coach of the Stanford Cardinal women, has also served as a WNBA scout and was head coach at Eastern Washington University before joining the Storm. storm.wnba.com caught up with VanDerveer this week to discuss her background and coaching philosophy.
storm.wnba.com: How well do you know Anne Donovan?
Coach VanDerveer: Obviously, she's been in the business a long time and so have I, so we've crossed paths a little bit, but I've really gotten to know her since she's been in Seattle a little bit and obviously, since I got hired, quite a bit the last several days here. Everybody has a tremendous amount of respect for her, people I know and value their opinion, and I'm very excited to work with Anne.
No doubt. When I was coaching in Minnesota, I worked for Brian Agler, who I had a tremendous amount of respect for. Sometimes, you get to a certain age and you want to just be an assistant. You want to be in the game. You might go through that stage, I think, when you get to a certain age and you want to have an experience. I value that more than just being a coach in the WNBA. When this job came open, I was very excited because obviously of having a tremendous amount of respect for Anne and understanding her philosophy and understanding her personality and knowing how she operates. You can't help but be excited about working for somebody with that character. I've known Jessie (Kenlaw) off and on, being in Sacramento and Minnesota when she was in Portland. She's a class individual, and then (I've known Director of Basketball Operations) Missy (Bequette), of course. I'm a people person, so that's been the drawing card for sure, not just to be back in the league. I'm very excited to be back in the league, but the ultimate goal was not to coach in the WNBA; it was to have a great experience and coach.
What do you bring to the Storm's coaching staff?
I hope just to complement, play off of Anne's strengths and weaknesses and Jessie's. I think that I probably bring a lot of positive energy. Anne's a post coach, so you've got to always remind those post people that it's the guards that get you the ball. I've worked with Sue in the past a little bit, so I'm very excited about that. I've worked with Betty (Lennox) in Minnesota and am very excited about that. I say I discovered Lauren Jackson when she was in Colorado Springs when she was 14. I said, 'She's great,' but nobody will give me credit for that. I wish I could have patented that. I've watched Tanisha (Wright), I've coached JB ( Janell Burse), so I think I have an established rapport with these people that gives me a head start. Then just knowledge of the game and I'm excited to share it with people and work hard to help people reach their goals and their potential.
You mentioned coaching Burse in Minnesota. Did you imagine she would develop into the player she is now?
I give JB a tremendous amount of credit. Now, JB is not a baby, but her first year she was. She didn't really understand being a professional and that you had to work out on days off. A lot of young players don't understand that. To JB's credit, she is a fast learner. She always had tremendous work ethic, it's just directing it in the way it needs to be channeled. Her second year in Minnesota, she never backed down from anything. She understood work ethic, she understood her time would come, but it would only come if she worked hard. She sent me an e-mail when they won the championship and I could see just how excited she was and she thanked me for helping her to a certain degree. To see where she's come since then is a credit to her. Obviously, I know Anne's done a great job with her and Jessie too. I don't think you could imagine it; we called her "one-move Mary." She's really evolved into a good low-post presence, one that complements this team very well. And she's a great person. That has a lot to do with it too.
Have you seen Lennox mature over the last few years?
I think Betty has, a little bit like JB, not just matured but evolved. I think that coming out of Louisiana Tech, she was a scorer. Now she understands getting in the flow of the offense and taking over when she has to take over. It's like the game has opened up to her a little bit. A lot of young players who are talented play with tunnel vision. Betty, through experience and success, her vision has totally expanded. The scary thing for the rest of the league is she can get a lot better. She works hard and she's very competitive and she's young, so those things will evolve for her.