November 3, 2020 

Renowned women’s basketball coach Nancy Darsch dies at 68

The women's basketball community mourns the loss of Nancy Darsch

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Nancy Darsch, who coached at all levels of women’s basketball, passed away Monday after battling Parkinson’s Disease. She was 68 years old.

Darsch began her long coaching career in 1973 at Longmeadow High School in Massachusetts, where she coached basketball, softball and field hockey. She then worked as an assistant at the University of Tennessee under legendary head coach Pat Summitt from 1978 to 1985, helping lead the Lady Vols to five Final Four appearances.

In 1985, Darsch became the head coach at Ohio State University, leading the team to four Big Ten conference championships and seven NCAA appearances in her 12 years at the helm. Under her leadership, the Buckeyes compiled a record of 234–125 (.652). ESPN analyst Debbie Antonelli, who worked at Ohio State at the same time as Darsch, tweeted her condolences Monday evening.

Darsch also served as an assistant coach for the USA women’s Olympic national team, winning gold medals with the squad at the 1984 and 1996 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and Atlanta, respectively. Darsch entered the WNBA in its inaugural season in 1997, serving as head coach of the New York Liberty. That year, the Liberty finished with a 17-11 record and advanced to the WNBA Final — which was one game rather than a series — where they ultimately fell short against the indomitable Houston Comets.

Darsch spent two seasons with the Liberty before joining the Washington Mystics and later holding assistant roles with the Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm.

The New York Liberty released a statement on Darsch Tuesday, saying: “We are grateful for Nancy’s leadership as a pioneer of this game. Her contributions to the advancement of both collegiate and professional women’s basketball, and her passion for the game will forever be felt.”

In 2010, the Seattle Storm, with then-head coach Brian Agler at the helm and Darsch on the bench, won their second championship in franchise history.

Written by Bela Kirpalani

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