Stanford coach visits hospital

“Go fast, go alone. Go far, go together.” Stanford women’s basketball coach shares formula for building successful teams.

Tara VanDerveer

Tara VanDerveer, head coach of the Stanford women’s basketball team, addressed nearly 100 medical staff members Monday, July 24, at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, sharing insights on teambuilding and the formula for achieving incredible feats together. VanDerveer has led teams to 1,000 wins at Stanford, as well as a gold medal in 1996, when she served as coach of the Women’s Basketball Olympics team.

VanDerveer addressed staff as they prepare for the opening of America’s most technologically advanced, family-friendly and environmentally sustainable hospital for babies, children and pregnant women. The new hospital, set to debut in December 2017, adds 521,000 square feet of building space and 149 patient beds.

“We’re not doing anything like what you’re doing in this room,” said VanDerveer to care team members from OR, interventional services, and imaging services. “We’re coaching a game, but we’re practicing skills that can work for everyone.”

The formula

According to VanDerveer coaching is all about building a team, and teams don’t happen by accident. The successful formula is different for each person and group.


“It’s not just about talent, and I know there’s tremendous talent in this room,” said VanDerveer. “We have tremendous talent on our team, but it’s about working together.”

VanDerveer also said that working collaboratively means she doesn’t have to have all the great ideas.

“Don’t depend on me to do all the thinking,” said VanDerveer. “We talk about the best way to get our team to be the best possible team we can be. It doesn’t have to be one person’s way, or another person’s way.”


“So many teams are destroyed by words and things people say,” said VanDerveer. “This goes back to such basic things. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

VanDerveer said good teammates build each other up, and are supportive of each other. They have each other’s backs. Good teams are authentic and embrace each other’s differences.


“We had a rule in my family that my mom established, that you could never go to bed mad at someone,” said VanDerveer. “I think that’s a great thing with children, you resolve things before you move on. We even have that rule with our team.”


“You’re wondering, can you do it?” said VanDerveer. “Do not allow yourself to even think in any negative thoughts. A lot of it is believing you’ll be successful, confidence that you can do it.”

The best chance

VanDerveer closed her remarks by emphasizing the opportunity staff members have to work together to support critically-ill children.

“Every sick kids that comes here, this is their best chance of getting help,” said VanDereer. “They can’t do it on their own. What an incredible challenge you have, but what an incredible opportunity. I am so proud to be part of Stanford, and so proud to be part of your team.”


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