The Phoenix Mercury officially named Vanessa Nygaard as the club's new head coach on Monday.
The 46-year-old Nygaard takes over a team that lost to the Chicago Sky in last season's WNBA Finals. She replaces Sandy Brondello, who took over the New York Liberty after her contract with Phoenix expired.
The Mercury feel that they have a solid replacement in Nygaard, a former WNBA player and assistant coach who also enjoyed a successful tenure as a high school coach in California.
"We were looking for a teacher of the game, a master tactician, and someone with the temperament to lead a roster that mixes veteran experience with youthful potential, that has championship aspirations every season," Mercury general manager Jim Pitman said in a news release. "We found that coach in Vanessa, whose enthusiasm for building relationships and holding players to the highest standards separated her in this process."
A native of Scottsdale, Ariz., Nygaard was a star player at Carlsbad High School in the San Diego area and won CIF Player of the Year honors in 1993. She earned a scholarship to Stanford and was part of three Final Four teams before playing five WNBA seasons (1999-2003) with four teams, averaging 4.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 107 games (53 starts).
Nygaard's coaching background includes assistant stops in college for Long Beach State and Pepperdine and WNBA stints in San Antonio (2008), Washington (2009) and Las Vegas (2021).
"This is an organization that has set the standard on and off the court in the WNBA for 25 years," Nygaard said of a Phoenix franchise that has won three WNBA crowns. "When I looked at the commitment to winning here, the resources from ownership, the partnership with the Suns, and the roster in place, I knew this was where I wanted to be. The goal here is to win championships, and I look forward to getting this team back to the top of the WNBA mountain."
Nygaard won two California state titles (2017, 2018) and five section titles at Windward School in Los Angeles.
--Field Level Media