LA JOLLA — Heidi VanDerveer, who led the Occidental College women's basketball team to four SCIAC championships in four years, has accepted an offer to become the head coach at UC San Diego.
VanDerveer informed Occidental and her players of her decision to take the job at the NCAA Division II School on Wednesday. She is expected to begin with the Tritons in June.
VanDerveer, the little sister of Hall of Fame Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, has had some remarkable stops in her coaching career and she has definitely left her mark at Oxy.
The former WNBA coach, Olympic team scout and assistant for the legendary Pat Summitt averaged more than 20 wins per season, led Oxy to a pair of NCAA playoff appearances — including its first appearance ever in her first season — and had an overall record of 84-25 with the Tigers.
VanDerveer went 49-7 in SCIAC, giving her the best conference winning percentage of any women's basketball coach in the history of the league.
"In the women's basketball world, with a name like VanDerveer, we knew what we were going to get," Occidental athletic director Jaime Hoffman said. "What's not on Heidi's resume though is her team-player mentality, her commitment to the entire Occidental community and mission, and her impact as a role model to her players. Needless to say, she is the complete package and we wish her and UCSD the best of luck."
Occidental will begin the search for VanDerveer's successor immediately.
VanDerveer replaces Charity Elliot, who left for NCAA Division I Loyola Marymount in April after leading the UCSD to 137-24 record and four NCAA tournament appearances in five seasons.
The beach will be familiar territory for VanDerveer, who has a house in Normal Heights and coached at San Diego St. in 2007-08. Still leaving Eagle Rock won't be easy.
"Of all of my experiences and all my years of basketball, Oxy ranks among the best of them. I had an opportunity to work with tremendous people," VanDerveer said. "I'm very thankful to Jaime (Hoffman), President (Jonathan) Veitch and the Oxy athletic department for being a tremendous part of the experience.
"I had a chance to coach great players that were even better people. And While I'm excited about the future in San Diego I am sad to leave such a special place."
In her career, VanDerveer has coached the likes of Sue Bird, Candace Parker, Lisa Leslie, Diana Taurasi and several other women's basketball superstars.
She began her career under Summitt as a graduate assistant when Tennessee won the national championship in 1987 and advanced to the Final Four in 1988, then coached six seasons as an assistant at South Carolina and three as the head coach at Eastern Washington before a 12-year run in the WNBA.
VanDerveer moved back to the collegiate ranks as an assistant with the University of San Francisco, followed by a stint as the associate head coach at SDSU, her last stop prior to Oxy.
The Tigers lost just one senior to graduation and return a nucleus of players that led them to the program's fifth consecutive conference championship. 2012 SCIAC Player of the Year Makenzie Brandon (Seattle) and the All-SCIAC frontcourt combo of Katelyn Rowe (Carlsbad) and Elizabeth Messick (Reno, Nev.) headline the group.
Brandon led the SCIAC in scoring (18.1) and was named a d3hoops.com First Team All-West Region performer.
Rowe, a First Team All-SCIAC selection, and Messick, a second team choice, combined for 14 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game in 2011-12.
On the perimeter, Oxy brings back a trio of seasoned senior guards with postseason experience.
Liz Little (Littleton, Colo.), Oxy's third leading scorer (6.6) and best three-point shooter in 2011-12 (31.8 percent), Stephanie Scamman (Northridge), who averaged 6.2 ppg, and Marquisha Corley (Tucson, Ariz.), the Tigers starting point guard, will all be back in 2012-13.