Hatchell gets 900th win
North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell never misses an opportunity to market her team, whether it’s printing shirts in her kitchen, buying ads in the student newspaper or driving a car that’s fully wrapped with promotional material.
When it came time to celebrate Hatchell’s own accomplishment Thursday, her players returned the favor. Sophomore guard Erika Johnson designed hats with the words “Sylvia Hatchell 900 wins,” which everyone on the team wore proudly after the Tar Heels defeated Boston College 80-52.
“I am so excited for her,” Johnson said. “It’s just cool to be in the presence of someone who has accomplished so much.”
Hatchell became the third women’s basketball coach with 900 career wins, joining Pat Summitt and Jody Conradt. With her next victory, she will be second on the all-time wins list behind Summitt, who won 1,098 games with Tennessee.
“Sylvia has been one of the great ambassadors of the women’s game, and it is so pleasing to see her reach the 900-win milestone in her career,” Summit said in a statement. “I wish her all the best as she continues to build on her truly amazing career!”
Summitt and Hatchell actually worked together when they both were getting their master’s degrees at Tennessee — Summitt coached the varsity team and Hatchell led the junior varsity during the 1974-75 season.
Hatchell said she’ll mark the milestone by taking a gratitude tour after the season, when she’ll personally thank Summitt and others who gave her the opportunity to coach. For now, she’s focused on her team.
“It’s great,” Hatchell said. “We haven’t even talked about it the last few days. They really were very focused tonight and played exceptionally well.”
Hatchell is 628-237 in her 27th season at UNC, where she won the 1994 NCAA title. She also went 272-80 in 11 seasons at Francis Marion, where her duties included sweeping the court, washing the uniforms and driving the team bus.
Hatchell’s husband, Sammy, and her son, Van, were among the 803 people in attendance for the landmark victory.
“It means she had an opportunity to be involved in a lot of kids’ lives. The wins are just the icing on the cake,“ said Sammy Hatchell, the associate head coach of the Shaw women’s team that won the Division II national championship last season. “I think probably deep down inside she’s really proud of it, but she’s thinking more in terms of 21 wins (this season) than 900.”
Hatchell shows no signs of slowing down — she has the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class coming in next season.
“I’m excited. We have a great team this year,” Hatchell said. “The kids are working hard, getting better and better. I’m excited about what we’re going to do the rest of this season, and we’ve got some kids coming in. I’m fired up and ready to go.”