Published: April 9, 2013 Updated 9 hours ago
Basketball is a fast game, but those who achieve greatness in it know it’s also about endurance. It’s about persistence, practice and grit. Winning over time is about never losing faith in yourself or your team.
Sylvia Hatchell has achieved greatness by showing those qualities year after year as the women’s basketball coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Now she is receiving the ultimate recognition. It was announced Monday that Hatchell will be part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.
Hatchell, a Gastonia native, is the first woman with UNC ties to earn a place in the basketball shrine in Springfield, Mass. She will be formally inducted in September, bringing the number of Tar Heels in the basketball Hall of Fame to 10.
Hatchell, a three-time national coach of the year whose team won the NCAA national championship in 1994, showed she was an exceptional coach years ago. She keeps showing it. This year, she won her 900th career game, only the third Division 1 women’s coach to achieve that mark. In addition to 27 years at Chapel Hill, Hatchell’s career includes 11 seasons at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C., where she won national titles in 1982 and 1986.
For all her longevity, Hatchell is notable for a stunning instant that ranks among basketball’s most dramatic finishes. Her Tar Heels won the 1994 national title when Charlotte Smith hit a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left to beat Louisiana Tech, 60-59.
Hatchell, 61, savors that moment, but she’s looking for more. Her contract was extended last year through 2017-18 by former athletic director Dick Baddour.
“We’ll see what happens, but I feel like I’ve got several more years in me,” Hatchell said earlier this year. “Dickie gave me a new contract before he retired last year, so I’m fired up.”