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Nancy Darsch (1951–2020), one of the original WNBA coaches

by Linnea Crowther

Nancy Darsch was a women’s basketball coach who helped take USA Basketball to gold at the 1984 and 1996 Olympics and was one of the original WNBA coaches.

Victorious career

Darsch coached college basketball at the University of Tennessee before becoming head coach at Ohio State University in 1985. She took the Buckeyes to four Big Ten titles and seven NCAA tournament appearances, and her team had the first televised game for Buckeyes women’s basketball, shown on ESPN in 1990.  Darsch was assistant coach for USA Basketball at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, where both teams won gold. In 1997, the inaugural season for the WNBA, Darsch was named head coach of the New York Liberty. Her team played the WNBA’s first game ever on June 21, 1997, against the Los Angeles Sparks, winning 65-51. Darsch became head coach for the Washington Mystics in 1999 before moving to assistant coach positions for the Minnesota Lynx in 2003 and Seattle Storm in 2008.

Tributes to Nancy Darsch

Full obituary: The New York Times

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