It all started at Cheyney State College.
“We had these ugly uniforms,” former Cheyney State player Antoinette Burton stated to espnW.com’s Mechelle Voepel. “They had vertical blue and white stripes. Ugh, I’ll never forget those.”
Charlaine Vivian Stringer — better known to the nation as C. Vivian Stringer — coached Burton during her time at Cheyney State. Forty-six years later, as head coach at Rutgers, coach Stringer achieved her 1,000th victory in a 73-44 victory over Central Connecticut State.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer is the sixth coach in NCAA women’s basketball history to reach this milestone.
From Cheyney State to Iowa to Rutgers, Stringer’s career is a legendary road that has seen it’s fair share of successful endeavors. Although this may be true, the beginning of this monumental career is traced back to Philadelphia.
To say nothing of her time at Cheyney State would be disrespectful to the rest of her journey.
Title IX was passed on June 23, 1972 and Stringer volunteered to be the coach of the women’s team at Cheyney State. Without delay, she was able to lead the women’s team to successful seasons every year. Stringer was able to compile a record of 251-51 (144 of those wins coming in her first year). All of a sudden, the program was in the inaugural NCAA Championship game for women in 1982.
“She’s very detailed-oriented,” Marianna Freeman declared while speaking to Voepel. Freeman played for Stringer at Cheyney and would become her assistant coach at Iowa, then the head coach at Syracuse. “She’d tell us, ‘It’s never the big hole you trip over, it’s the little crack.’ The error was always in the small details you might miss.”
The Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer would then go on to Iowa and become the head coach at the university starting in 1983. Stringer would go on to coach 12 seasons with the Hawkeyes. Similarly, Stringer would have another successful run like she experienced with Cheyney State. In like manner with Iowa, Stringer was able to have a record of 269-84 and nine trips to the NCAA Tournament.
The Iowa Hawkeyes went to the NCAA Final Four in the 1992-1993 season with Stringer leading the way as head coach.
Once she was able to arrive at Rutgers, Stringer would begin to achieve the most success in her coaching career. For instance, Stringer has 16 20-win seasons at Rutgers. The women’s basketball team, under Stringer’s leadership, has made the postseason 17 times. The Scarlet Knights have seen numerous players become WNBA players while being coached by C. Vivian Stringer. Cappie Pondexter, Erica Wheeler, Kia Vaughn and Epiphany Prince are all players who have played for Rutgers who have had a professional career afterwards.
A point often overlooked is that C. Vivian Stringer was able to lead the Scarlet Knights to the Final Four. She is the only coach to lead three different programs to the Final Four. Stringer is a legendary coach who deserves all the accolades she has received during her tenure.
Equally important, C. Vivian Stringer has been an important influence in other coaches and basketball figures. One of those people is South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.
In a letter penned by The Undefeated, Staley declared, “I have always embraced my role as dream merchant for my players, but it took your vision to expand mine, to remind me that my reach goes beyond those I see every day.” Those sentiments are similar to anyone who may have crossed paths with Stringer.
“I’m happy and grateful that I have the opportunity to continue to somehow shape the lives of these young women,” Stringer said prior to the win over Central Connecticut to Voepel.
C. Vivian Stringer is an innovator in the women’s basketball dynamic. From 1972 to now, she has been a coach who is molding young women to be better basketball players and better people. Earning 1,000 wins is a testament to her longevity. She has been able to evolve with the game and still emjoys success that will forever etched in basketball lore.
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