The 10 Best Female Coaches Of All Time

From the birth of Title IX to the equal pay demands of women’s sports leagues across the globe in 2020, women are changing the athletic scene as we know it. These 10 female coaches are among those, past and present, who have brought their teams to greatness, raising the level of play, and giving women’s athletics the clout it deserves.

Pat Summitt

Pat Summitt is a name you must know–she hangs in the big leagues among names like Gregg Popovich and Mike Krzyzewski. For nearly 4 decades, Summitt led the University of Tennessee to countless NCAA tournaments, clenching 8 national titles and becoming the winningest coach in NCAA Division I Basketball history, with 1098 victories on the court. As the Naismith Coach of the Century, coaches around the world are striving to be the next Pat Summitt.

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Jill Ellis

In 2019, Jill Ellis retired as one of the greatest coaches the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has ever known. Ellis was the first coach in history to win back to back FIFA Women’s World Cups, never losing a match in World Cup play. She left the program on a 17-game win streak and an overall record of 106-7-19.

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Tara VanDerveer

After coaching at Idaho and Ohio for 2 and 5 seasons respectively, Tara VanDerveer has recorded over 34 seasons at Stanford with a 941-202 record and two national championships. 4-time national coach of the year and 15-time Pac-12 coach of the year, she enters this season just 5 wins short of passing Pat Summitt as the winningest coach in college basketball.

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Pia Sundhage

Pia Sundhage coached the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team from 2008-2012, leading them to 2 Olympic gold medals and a 2nd place finish in the FIFA World Cup. She ended with a 91-10-6 record with the U.S. before heading overseas to work with Swedish national teams from 2012-2018. As of 2019, she has been hired to coach the Brazilian Olympic team as the next summer games approach.

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Anne “Muffet” McGraw

After 33 years as the head coach of Notre Dame women’s basketball, “Muffet” McGraw unexpectedly retired after the 2020 season, but left a noteworthy mark on the program. The storied coach built one of few teams who could defeat Geno Auriemma’s UConn Huskies, not to mention a 936-292 record, 9 Final Four appearances, 7 NCAA championship game appearances, and 2 NCAA championship victories in 2001 and 2018.

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Carol Hutchins

Head coach at University of Michigan, Carol Hutchins, is one of the greatest minds in softball. After 37 seasons at Michigan, she is the winningest coach in NCAA softball history, holds an NCAA title and 21 Big Ten Conference titles. Hutchins has never had a losing season at Michigan, creating an impressive career record of 1631-525-5.

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C. Vivian Stringer

C. Vivian Stringer is the first coach, man or woman, to take three different schools to the Final Four. Spending time at Cheyney State, University of Iowa, and now Rutgers, Stringer has strung together 48 seasons of coaching. After spending the last 24 years at Rutgers, she has a career record of 1019-412, appeared in 16 NCAA tournaments and 2 Final Fours.

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Mary Wise

After becoming the youngest Division I head coach ever hired at the age of 21, Mary Wise spent a few years at Iowa State before leaving to coach the Florida Gators, where she has been for 30 seasons. In her coaching tenure, she has the most career victories (958) among women Division I head coaches in NCAA history, is the only female in to ever coach in the volleyball national championship match, and is a 15-time SEC Coach of the Year Award winner.

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Kim Mulkey

Kim Mulkey took over the Baylor Bears in 2000 after a record of 7-20 the previous year. Since then, Mulkey has spent 19 seasons as their head coach, accruing 586 career victories. She transformed the Baylor Bears into a national powerhouse, winning NCAA championships in 2005, 2012, and 2019. The Bear’s 2005 championship made Mulkey the first person, man or woman, to win a basketball national championship as a student-athlete, assistant coach and head coach.

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Dawn Staley

After a successful athletic career at the University of Virginia, Dawn Staley began coaching at Temple University, and eventually landed in her current position at University of South Carolina. During her coaching career she has reached 14 NCAA tournaments, bringing home a national title in 2017. She also played for the United States in 1989 before being named head coach of USA Basketball from 2017 to present.

Photo Credit: Google Reuse


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