“Tara and Mark coached their teams remarkably well through a challenging season to make a great run,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “We obviously know about their successful coaching acumen with them having won this award on previous occasions, and we’re thrilled to recognize Tara and Mark as the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year winners once again.”
This season, VanDerveer surpassed Pat Summitt as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history, currently at 1,123 career wins. Named the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year for the 16th time, she led the Cardinal to their 24th all-time Pac-12 regular season title as well as the 2021 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship. She previously won the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year honor for Stanford in 2011 and 1990. Her team will play in the NCAA Women’s Final Four later today against South Carolina.
“It is a tremendous honor to be named the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year,” said VanDerveer. “I’m very grateful and humbled. I want to thank Stanford University, my athletic director, my assistant coaches and especially, my players. Our team has had a great season, and this award is a reflection of those players, how hard they’ve worked and how hard they’ve played.”
Few led Gonzaga to its first-ever unbeaten regular season finish in program history (24-0) and claimed both the West Coast Conference regular season and conference tournament championships. He was named the conference coach of the year for the 14th time and previously won the Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s Coach of the Year award in 2017. The Zags now have 14 consecutive seasons, all under Few, with at least 25 wins. His Bulldogs will face off against UCLA in the NCAA Final Four Saturday, April 3.
NEARING HISTORY: Gonzaga heads to the Final Four two wins from a perfect season
“The Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year is an incredible honor. I’m very humbled by it because I’m surrounded by so many amazing coaches in our profession that I look up to and really hold in great reverence,” said Few. “Especially with the year we all have been through, I think everybody did an amazing job shepherding their teams through all the challenges. This really means a lot. It’s great to be honored, and I appreciate it.”
Later this year, VanDerveer and Few will each be presented with a Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year commemorative trophy designed by nationally acclaimed sculptor Brian Hanlon. The bronze trophy features Dr. James Naismith, inventor of basketball, holding the original peach basket and ball used to play the first game.
“Werner is proud of its association with the Atlanta Tipoff Club and honoring the most outstanding coaches in college basketball,” said Vice President of Brand Marketing at WernerCo, Stacy Gardella. “We salute all the finalists for their tremendous seasons, and it’s truly an honor to feature Tara VanDerveer and Mark Few for their leadership and positive impact in the lives of the student-athletes they coach. They are both incredibly deserving to be the 2021 Werner Ladder Naismith College Coach of the Year recipients.”
VanDerveer and Few were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading media members from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom based their selections on outstanding coaching performances during the 2020-21 college basketball season. Additionally, fans had the opportunity to cast a ballot through naismithfanvote.com and on the @NaismithTrophy and NCAA @MarchMadness Twitter pages, which accounted for 5% of the overall vote. The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, a premier CPA-led business advisory firm, headquartered in Atlanta.