Hall of Famer Katy Steding comes back to coach Cardinal
It's a different game of basketball being played at Maples Pavilion compared to when Katy Steding was a leader on Stanford's first national championship team in 1990. But some things haven't changed, such as who is at the top spot on the bench.
The university announced Tuesday that the Stanford Hall of Fame player will replace Tempie Brown to coach post players under Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame head coach Tara Vanderveer. Former Virginia Tech assistant Britney Anderson will step in for Lindy La Rocque, who is now the head coach at UNLV.
"I have known Katy for 35 years," said VanDerveer in a press release. "Her combination of playing and coaching experience is truly second to none. She is a woman of very high character, with great teaching and communication skills. I loved coaching Katy and am excited to work with her again as an assistant."
It's the first time since Kate Paye and Bobbie Kelsey were hired in 2007 that there have been two vacancies to fill in one offseason.
“I’m kind of overwhelmed right now because the response I’ve been getting is really fantastic," Steding said in a phone call with Cardinal Sports Report. "People seem really excited and I’m really happy and honored to be back.
“This is a highly coveted position to work with Tara, and Kate with her experience there, and everybody else on staff. I always talk about surrounding yourself with excellence and this is where you do it.”
Steding played for VanDerveer from 1986-1990. The versatile forward grabbed rebounds at a historic pace and was a crack shot from the three-point arc -- she made six of them in the 1990 final against Auburn.
When Steding graduated there were no professional opportunities for a young player who obviously had the talent to keep playing. VanDerveer was a pioneering force to help create such a league and her time leading the 1996 Olympic team -- on which Steding played -- helped pave the way.
Steding played for two seasons in the American Basketball League for her hometown team, the Portland Power, and then played two years in the WNBA when that league began in 2000.
She started her coaching career as head coach of Oregon NAIA program Warner Pacific University in 2001. After seven years at Warner Pacific she made stops at the Atlanta Dream, Columbia, University of San Francisco (twice), Cal and Boston University (as head coach).
“It’s hard to predict your own future," Steding said of her path to Stanford. "I said to someone the other day that I couldn’t have written this script. Even in college and during the pros, for years I ran my own year-round basketball academy and when I retired from playing, coaching fell into my lap. It wasn’t something that was specifically on my radar. I decided to try it and see how I liked it. It worked out, obviously.”
Steding has been the associate head coach for the Dons the past two seasons. It was only about three weeks ago that Stanford reached out to start the job interview process.
“When Tara called and asked me if I would be interested in joining it took me a couple minutes to check, ‘Is this real? Am I dreaming? This feels weird and I don’t normally dream about Tara anymore after all these years.’ It was pretty awesome.”
Playing for VanDerveer has a lasting impression on a young person. The exacting coach pushes her players to reach the limits of their potential and she has strong opinions about the game from almost four decades of coaching.
Steding has seen some of Vanderveer's teaching and preferred style in her own coaching. She was reminded of that during recent conversations with her new staff.
Amy Tucker coached at Stanford for 32 years with VanDerveer and has spent the last three as an administrative assistant -- providing invaluable mentorship and an extra pair of expert eyes about the game.
“Even though they’re running a very different system now than when I was there, and the game has evolved in a lot of different ways, some of the first calls with everyone talking about offensive technique it’s like, ‘Oh, yeah'," Steding laughed. "Amy said this is stuff you should remember. It’s the same stuff I’ve been teaching.
“There are a lot of things in the same place but it’s a very different place. So much of the foundation is the same and it was wonderful to hear Tara talk about the Stanford way of doing things. That really resonated with me. It felt like putting on a really comfortable pair of shoes. I remember how this fits and it feels good.”
Eventually Steding will have a chance to coach Stanford's players. What those practices look like and when they will start is still unknown while the university puts together its plan to protect student-athletes from COVID-19.
In the meantime, Steding is talking with her new players over the phone and studying film. The talent is obvious among the young group.
Senior Maya Dodson will lead the way with three underclassmen looking to her to set the tone. Rising sophomores Ashten Prechtel and Fran Belibi were significant contributors last season.
Former top-five overall recruit Cameron Brink signed with Stanford out of Oregon. Steding already has some familiarity with the heralded freshman because of her own connections in the Portland area.
“The eagerness with which the current players are welcoming me and Britney is really awesome," Steding said. "I’m really excited. There’s a readiness. They work really, really hard and I’m thrilled to be back in such a familiar, different but familiar, environment. The girls have cemented the fact that this was a really good decision.
"I’m really amazed. We have an embarrassment of riches in the post. I’m really eager to get going with them.”