North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell’s career has marked over four decades of excellence, obstacles and hard work.
From her first win as a head coach at Francis Marion in 1976 to her now 32-year tenure at UNC, Hatchell has instilled a winning culture for every team she has coached. The constant hard work payed off on Tuesday afternoon in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as the Tar Heels faced off against struggling Grambling State (3-6).
After a win against Washington in a high scoring affair on Sunday, Hatchell sat just one win shy of the prestigious 1,000 career win mark. North Carolina fans filled the stands with signs and T-shirts, and the center with chants that lasted the entire game.
The Tar Heels (10-2) were locked into a tight contest in the first half after a slow shooting start. Guards Jamie Cherry and Taylor Koenen helped pace the team though with good shooting, though, and UNC took a five-point lead into the break at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
In the second half, the Tar Heels were able to pull away and finish the game with a 79-63 victory over the Tigers. Koenen finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Cherry finished with a team-high 22 points.
As the buzzer sounded on Hatchell’s 1,000th career win, the celebration began. Her team surrounded her along with fans, former players and others who followed the coach's storied career. Hats and T-shirts proclaiming “Sylvia Hatchell 1000 Wins! Beyond Amazing!”
Hatchell joins a short and prestigious list of college basketball coaches with at least 1,000 wins: Mike Krzyzewski, Tara VanDerveer, Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma (who won his 1,000th later on Tuesday night).
The journey wasn't an easy one. At North Carolina, Hatchell coached during the entirety of the NCAA's investigation into the school. She also missed the 2013-14 season as she fought leukemia. She returned to the team in its 2014 season opener.