This season C. Vivian Stringer will not be on the sidelines coaching after a half-century of excellence. Following a legendary career at Rutgers (1995-2022), she will be enshrined on the school’s basketball court Sunday, Dec. 4 with a dedication ceremony.
Stringer, a Hall of Famer (2001, Women’s Basketball; Naismith, 2009; New Jersey, 2020; and Rutgers, 2022) whose career began at an HBCU, was the second full-time WBB head coach in Rutgers history, finishing her career as the school’s longest-tenured women’s basketball coach. She won 535 games there and led 17 squads to the NCAAs, including 10 consecutively from 2003 to 2012.
“I think one thing that I always admired and respected about Coach Stringer was as much what she did off the court as she did on the court, how she cared for her players, how she challenged and nurtured and grew her players,” noted Coquese Washington, who succeeded Stringer at RU this season.
Betnijah Laney, who played for Stringer (2011-15), a 2015 WNBA second-round pick recently named the league’s Dawn Staley Community Award winner, told me, “I was so fortunate to be able to play under her for four years. She was a great mentor for a lot of women.”
“You can never talk enough about C. Vivian Stringer,” said Tim Eatman, who was an assistant for Stringer (Iowa, 1994-95; and three roles at Rutgers—assistant coach, associate head coach and acting head coach, 2015-22). “She’s a better person than she is a basketball coach. What she’s done for not only women’s basketball, what she’s done for the overall landscape of college basketball just speaks volumes.”
Beginning at Cheyney State (1972-83), then Iowa (1983-95), then Rutgers, Stringer became the fifth NCAA women’s coach to reach 1,000 career wins and the first Black coach to do so. She is ranked fifth all-time in NCAA WBB history with 1,055 career victories. She also passed the late Pat Summitt to become the NCAA record holder with 37 seasons of 20 or more victories.
Continued Washington, “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing a ton of players that were coached by her and the things that they share about the impact she had on them as young women. Especially for women of color like myself to look up and see this Black woman doing it, being outspoken, speaking up for underserved communities and speaking up for Black women.
“It wasn’t the popular thing to do; she did it anyway,” noted the first-year Rutgers coach. “That’s the thing she taught me as a coach. We have to fight for what we need to be successful in this business.
“It’s that part of Coach Stringer that I think is as amazing as her victories, her trips to the Final Four at three different schools. All of that stuff is awesome, it’s great, but I think it’s just the leadership that she showed over decades that sticks with me. That’s the thing that makes me really proud to follow in her footsteps, because I know the impact that she had on me personally.”
Eatman said, “These last seven years when I worked with her, she gave me an opportunity to help lead [the RU] program, and she put a lot of responsibilities on my head.”
The MSR plans to be at Stringer’s honoring event this weekend along with many others who have known, loved and respected the heck out of the grand dame of women’s coaches. Stringer’s career and legacy will be recognized throughout the day with pregame and halftime ceremonies.
“I’m just so fortunate to have been able to play under her,” concluded Laney, a longtime W veteran, “and learn from her both on and off the court.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.