When it comes to D1 Women's Basketball, BR-106 North Carolina is always in the mix thanks in large part to the efforts of head coach Sylvia Hatchell.
A living legend among current coaches, Hatchell is in her 30th year leading the Tar Heels and recently grabbed win No. 700 as North Carolina downed Clemson 72-56 on Sunday. She picked up No. 701 on Thursday, beating Syracuse 77-73, to go 2-0 in ACC play this year.
With five Hall of Fame nods to her credit (a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 2013 inductee; Women's Basketball Hall of Fame 2004 inductee; Francis Marion HoF; North Carolina HoF; and South Carolina HoF), Hatchell is the most decorated active coach in the land. She has been named National Coach of the Year three times and has led her team to at least 20 wins in 31 seasons.
"I was not even aware of it being so close to 700 until someone said something to me just a few days earlier," Hatchell told the Herald Sun. "I try not to think about numbers. Just winning!"
Winning is the name of her game and few coaches have ever done it so well. She is second in all of D1 at the moment with Mike Krzyzewski, of Duke, ahead with 1,031 wins on the men's side of the game.
Prior to taking over at UNC, she coached at Francis Marion and went 272-80 over 11 years. Her win total now stands at 973 (and counting). She's already won two National Championships — one with Francis Marion in 1982 and 1986 and one with UNC in 1994. The next milestone is No. 1,000.
Hatchell is a bit of an inspirational story off the court as well, battling leukemia.
“I had the worst leukemia you can have—acute myeloid leukemia—and not many people make it through that,” she told WRAL. “I had a checkup yesterday … The doctor said, ‘You’re good to go, girl.’ It’s been hard, but I’m a better woman for what I’ve been through.”
Overall, Hatchell has seen 23 of her players enter the WNBA and a slew of others found professional careers overseas. She herself was coached the United States National Team in 1994, leading the squad to a Gold Medal in the R. Williams Jones Cup.
While many other current coaches come from a D1 pedigree themselves, Hatchell played both basketball and volleyball at Carson-Newman College.
Her quest to hit the 1,000 mark continues as the Lady Tar Heels take on Notre Dame on Sunday at 1 p.m. Legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summit's record of 1,098 wins isn't all that far off, either.