Nygaard heads home to coach Phoenix Mercury

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PHOENIX (AP) — Vanessa Nygaard is headed home to coach the Phoenix Mercury.

A Scottsdale native, Nygaard was announced as the 10th coach in Mercury history on Monday after a nine-year stint as a head high school coach.

She replaces Sandy Brondello, who didn’t have her contract renewed last month after eight seasons and taking the Mercury to the 2021 WNBA Finals.

“I've always wanted to be back here. It's been my dream,” Nygaard said. “I took an unconventional path. I needed to get reps as a head coach and nobody was going to give me those.”

Nygaard went to the Final Four three times from 1995 to 1997 as a player with Stanford and played six WNBA seasons with multiple teams. She started her coaching career as an assistant at Long Beach State and Pepperdine, and also led Windward High School to three California state titles.

Nygaard was an assistant coach with the Las Vegas Aces in 2021. She’s also been an assistant coach for USA Basketball and the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars and Washington Mystics.

“Vanessa has a vision for the right way to play, she has high expectations, demands commitment and accountability,” Mercury general manager Jim Pitman said. “As a former player at Stanford and the WNBA, her ability to connect with our players will be invaluable.”

Nygaard takes over a team loaded with talent, including Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner, that lost to the Chicago Sky in the 2021 WNBA Finals.


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