The Rutgers women’s basketball’s head coach C. Vivian Stringer is just six wins shy of 1,000 career coaching victories in Division I women’s basketball. She currently sits sixth all time in wins after coaching basketball for 47 seasons.
Stringer is the Knights’ most decorated coach, yet she often flies under the radar on campus, and many students do not know the extent of her accomplishments.
Growing up in a small coal-mining town in Western Pennsylvania, Stringer’s high school was so small that it did not even have a women’s basketball team.
“I grew up in this town called Edenborn, and it’s not even on a map,” Stringer said during her Naismith Hall of Fame induction speech. “But there, people lived, died and questioned a lot, but seldom did they travel past 50 miles. But I had dreams. Big dreams.”
Stringer went on to attend college at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, where she was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame for her time on the women’s basketball and field hockey teams.
Fresh out of college, Stringer volunteered to coach the women’s basketball team at Cheyney University, when she was only 23 years old. She coached there for 12 seasons, compiling a record of 251-51 and took the Lady Wolves to the finals in the 1982 NCAA tournament, which was the first-ever NCAA tournament in women’s basketball history.
After her successful tenure at Cheyney, Stringer was offered the head coaching position for the women’s basketball team at Iowa. With the Hawkeyes, Stringer coached the team to 10 straight 20 win seasons — she was head coach there for 11 seasons.
While at Iowa, Stringer’s team made nine NCAA tournament appearances and won six conference championships. Stringer herself was named National Coach of the Year twice in her time coaching the Hawkeyes.
In 1995, Stringer moved herself and her three children from Iowa to New Jersey to take the head coaching job at Rutgers. Stringer had an incredible 520-135 record as a head coach at the time of her hiring, and the Knights were making the transition into a new conference — the Big East.
Five years later, Stringer led Rutgers to a 26-8 record and a Final Four appearance, becoming the first coach ever to lead three different teams to a Final Four. A year later, in 2001, she was enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 2004, Stringer won a gold medal at the Olympics, serving as an assistant coach on the USA women’s basketball team. In 2009, Stringer was entrenched in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame alongside the likes of John Stockton, Jerry Sloan, David Robinson and Michael Jordan.
As Stringer approaches the next milestone of many throughout her career, she is in the middle of a turnaround 17-6 season, after the worst season of her coaching career last year, when the Knights went 6-24.
With six wins left to reach 1,000, the team has seven regular-season games left on the schedule. On top of the Big Ten tournament and potentially the NCAA tournament, this achievement can surely be reached by the end of the year — further immortalizing an already illustrious career.