Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
In her 14 years at Duke University, Gail Goestenkors has helped lead the Blue Devils from relative obscurity to national prominence. Known as “Coach G” to players, coaches, fans and student supporters, Goestenkors has raised the level of the women’s basketball program at Duke to new heights. Today, because of Coach G, Duke is mentioned in the same breath with the other elite programs in women’s college basketball.
Since arriving at Duke in 1992, Goestenkors has accomplished feats that no other women’s basketball coach in school history has been able to achieve. To put her success in perspective, Goestenkors has five more winning seasons (13) than there were in the 17 years prior to her arrival in Durham. The 1996, ’98, ’99, 2002, 2003 and 2004 ACC Coach of the Year (Duke’s only multiple winner of the award and one of just two ACC coaches to earn it six times), Goestenkors led the Blue Devils to their first appearances in the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four and National Championship game. Along with capturing Duke’s first ACC Tournament Championship, Goestenkors’ Blue Devil squads have broken numerous school, ACC and NCAA records, as well as setting a new standard for women’s basketball at Duke and in the ACC.
Continuing to build upon her well-earned reputation as one of the top college basketball coaches, Goestenkors led Duke to its fourth NCAA Final Four and the National Championship game in 2005-06. The Blue Devils posted a 31-4 overall and 12-2 league mark on the year, which marked the sixth straight season with 30 or more victories. Duke joined Louisiana Tech as the only teams in NCAA history to register six straight 30-win seasons. The Blue Devils earned a No. 1 national ranking for the fourth straight year and tied their own NCAA record for blocks with 267 in back-to-back seasons.
In 2004-05, Goestenkors led Duke to its fifth-straight ACC Regular Season title and an NCAA Elite Eight appearance. The Blue Devils concluded the season with a 31-5 overall record and were ranked No. 1 in the nation for three straight weeks. For the season, Duke blocked an NCAA-record 267 shots in a year where it was possibly Goestenkors’ best coaching job of her career after losing three starters off of the previous year’s team.
In 2003-04, Goestenkors led Duke to its fifth-straight ACC Championship and fourth-straight ACC Regular Season title. The Blue Devils posted a 30-4 record and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight, while Goestenkors earned ACC Coach of the Year honors for the sixth time. Duke was ranked No. 1 in the nation for five weeks and broke Connecticut’s 69-game home winning streak with a 68-67 victory in Hartford, Conn.
Goestenkors led the Blue Devils to an ACC-record 35-2 ledger in 2002-03 and their second straight NCAA Final Four appearance. For the second consecutive year, Duke posted a 19-0 record against ACC opponents and broke 33 team and individual records. Once again, Goestenkors received National Coach of the Year accolades earning Naismith, WBCA/Rawlings and Victor Award honors. For the first time in school history, Alana Beard earned the Victor Award as the National Player of the Year and was named ESPN.com National Player of the Year, while both Beard and Iciss Tillis were each named to the Kodak All-America Team.
The Blue Devils earned the school’s first No. 1 national ranking as Duke was tabbed No. 1 for the first 12 weeks of the season and was ranked no lower than second for the entire year in the Associated Press poll.
In 2001-02, Coach G led the Blue Devils to a 31-4 record and a NCAA Final Four appearance. Duke became the first ACC school to produce an undefeated 19-0 record in the ACC by winning the regular season and Tournament titles. The Blue Devils broke 24 school records, and Coach G was selected GBallmag.com National Coach of the Year. She did all of this with only eight players after two players transfered in December. Sophomore Alana Beard earned numerous honors including Associated Press All-America, ACC Player of the Year and ESPN The Magazine Shooting Guard of the Year. Sophomore Iciss Tillis earned honorable mention Associated Press All-America and freshman Monique Currie was named second team All-ACC.
In 2000-01, the Blue Devils posted a 30-4 record, a second consecutive ACC Tournament title, an ACC regular season championship and a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. It marked the first time in school history the Blue Devils won both the ACC regular season and Tournament titles in the same season. Senior Georgia Schweitzer and freshman Alana Beard earned All-America accolades, while Schweitzer captured her second consecutive ACC Player of the Year award. Duke accomplished all of this with five freshmen on the roster, a testament to Goestenkors’ coaching ability. For the excellent season, Goestenkors was named WBCA District II Coach of the Year.
The 1999-2000 season was one of Goestenkors’ finest coaching jobs in her 14 years with the Blue Devils. Picked to finish fourth in the ACC preseason poll and not ranked highly in any of the national polls, Duke raced to a 16-1 start on its way to capturing its first ACC Tournament Championship. The Blue Devils finished the year 28-6 despite losing three All-ACC starters to graduation and another, Peppi Browne, to injury halfway through the season. Nonetheless, Goestenkors and Duke regrouped to advance to the Sweet Sixteen and Coach G earned Basketball Times National Coach of the Year. In the 1998-99 season, the Blue Devils enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in the history of Duke women’s basketball. During the season the Blue Devils recorded a 16-game winning streak, a 15-1 ACC record, and 11 wins over ranked opponents, all school records at the time.
Goestenkors’ squad earned its then-highest national ranking ever, peaking at No. 2 at the end of the season. After beating three-time defending national champion Tennessee to capture the NCAA East Regional title, Duke advanced to its first Final Four, knocking off Georgia in the semifinals en route to a championship matchup with Purdue. Two more firsts for the Duke program in 1998-99 were the selection of Michele VanGorp to the prestigious Kodak All-America team and in the WNBA Draft. The 6-6 center, Duke’s first-ever Kodak All-America, became the first Blue Devil to play in the WNBA as a member of the New York Liberty.
If the past eight seasons show anything, they show how effective Goestenkors’ winning approach has been. Goestenkors’ record for highest winning percentage (.790) in school history offers evidence of her success: 364 total wins; an 86-7 mark at home against non-conference opponents; a 34-12 record in NCAA Tournament play; six straight 30-win seasons; eleven 20-plus win seasons in the past 12 years; five ACC Tournament Championships; seven ACC regular season titles; and four NCAA Final Four appearances.
Such accomplishments have not gone unnoticed by her peers in college basketball. Aside from winning ACC Coach of the Year in 1996, ’98, ’99, 2002, 2003 and 2004, Goestenkors captured the Victor Award in 1999 as the National Coach of the Year, as well as being selected the 2000 Basketball Times National Coach of the Year, the 2002 GBallmag.com National Coach of the Year and 2003 Naismith, WBCA/Rawlings and Victor Award as the National Coach of the Year.
Her coaching is so respected that Goestenkors was named to the USA Basketball Collegiate Committee in the summer of 2001, was an assistant coach on the gold medal winning 2002 USA World Championship team, was an assistant coach on the gold medal winning 2004 USA Olympic team, was the coach of the 2005 USA U19 World Championship gold medal team and was named as assistant coach to the USA World Championship team. In 2005-06, Goestenkors received the Carol Eckman Award from the WBCA, which is presented annually to an active WBCA coach who exemplifies Eckman’s spirit, integrity and character through sportsmanship, commitment to the student-athlete, honesty, ethical behavior, courage and dedication to purpose. She was also named USA Basketball Coach of the Year for guiding the U19 World Championship team to the gold medal.
When Goestenkors came to Duke in 1992, she found a women’s program hoping to establish itself as a winner while the Blue Devil faithful were in the midst of celebrating the second consecutive NCAA Championship won by coach Mike Krzyzewski and the men’s basketball team. Hoping to mirror the success of Coach K and his program, Goestenkors wanted to give Duke fans reason to cheer for her women’s team.
While success stories do not just happen overnight, it did not take long for Goestenkors to establish a winning attitude with the Blue Devils. In her inaugural season Duke started out strong with seven straight wins, which at that time was the third longest streak in school history. The 1992-93 squad, which featured only eight healthy players, broke four program records during the course of the season.
Great strides were taken in becoming a successful program in Goestenkors’ second season. That year, 1993-94, Duke finished with a 16-11 record for its first winning season since 1990-91. Also, the Blue Devils won seven ACC contests, the most wins by the school in nearly a decade.
The next season proved to be the emergence of Duke women’s basketball under Goestenkors onto the national scene. At the time, the 1994-95 Blue Devils set school records for most wins in a season (22) and ACC victories (10). After Duke’s first ever appearance in the ACC Championship game, Goestenkors and the Blue Devils appeared in the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in program history. Duke relished its opportunity to display its talent to the nation, defeating Oklahoma State in the opening round. Although they lost a heartbreaking game to Alabama in the second round (a 121-120 final and the only quadruple overtime game in NCAA women’s basketball history), the Blue Devils and Goestenkors were recognized for their breakthrough year. Duke earned its first national ranking since 1989, while Goestenkors was named 1995 WBCA District III Coach of the Year.
In 1995-96, Goestenkors and the Blue Devils wanted to prove that the previous year was no fluke and that Duke women’s basketball would be a major force in the years to come. Finishing the year 26-7, 12-4 in the ACC, the Blue Devils had back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time ever at Duke. Making their second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Blue Devils hosted first and second round games at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time since 1987. For her efforts, Goestenkors was recognized as ACC Coach of the Year after leading Duke to a No. 13 ranking in the final polls from both USA Today and the Associated Press.
Throughout the 1996-97 season the Blue Devils were a mainstay in the polls, peaking at 13th nationally and finishing the season at 22nd nationally. For the third consecutive year, Duke finished ACC action above .500, making Goestenkors the first coach in school history to do so. At the end of the season, Goestenkors was named head coach of the USA Basketball Jones Cup Team, which consists of American college all-stars who compete against other nations. The team went on to capture a silver medal in Taiwan. Three Blue Devils, Tyish Hall, Kira Orr and VanGorp, joined Goestenkors in representing Duke on that squad.
Following several years of success with the Blue Devils, Goestenkors reached some personal milestones in the 1997-98 season. In a 99-59 win on December 6 against Ohio in the Duke Women’s Basketball Classic, Goestenkors notched her 100th career victory. Ironically, the win came against Marsha Reall, who was Goestenkors’ collegiate coach at Saginaw Valley State. Goestenkors also finished the season with at least 20 wins for the third time in her career, the most for one coach in school history. Once again the Blue Devils enjoyed a highly successful season under Goestenkors, going 24-8 and advancing to the Elite Eight in NCAA Tournament action for the first time in school history.
Of course, the next year Goestenkors led Duke all the way to the championship game. It proved to be another step in the rise of the women’s basketball program under Goestenkors. The drive and passion for winning that she has instilled in her Blue Devil teams has always been with Goestenkors, dating back to her days as a player.
As an undergraduate at Saginaw Valley State, Goestenkors played for former Purdue head coach Reall. In her four years at Saginaw, Goestenkors earned NAIA All-America honors and was named conference MVP, as well as being selected to the Academic All-Conference Team. More importantly, Goestenkors led her team to a 114-13 record in the seasons she was there, along with a second place, a third place and two quarterfinal finishes at the NAIA National Championships. In the career charts at Saginaw Valley State, Goestenkors ranks second in steals (348), assists (469) and games played (127).
After earning a physical education degree from Saginaw Valley State in 1985, Goestenkors served as a graduate assistant for Iowa State during the 1985-86 season. From there, Goestenkors moved to Purdue, where she would spend the next six years as an assistant coach. Under head coach Lin Dunn, Goestenkors and the rest of the coaching staff helped Purdue emerge as a national powerhouse in women’s college basketball. Goestenkors specialized in recruiting some of the nation’s best talent for Purdue, a talent she brought to Duke upon her arrival in 1992. Every year it seems that Goestenkors adds tremendous talent to the Blue Devil roster. Goestenkors has brought in top-five rated recruiting classes over the past seven straight years from 1999-2005.
While at Purdue, Goestenkors contributed to leading the Boilermakers to an outstanding 135-42 record, five consecutive 20-win seasons and five NCAA Tournament berths, which included two Sweet Sixteen appearances, along with Purdue’s first Big Ten Championship in 1991. That season, the Boilermakers were ranked third in the nation in the Associated Press final poll. She also helped coach two Kodak All-America selections.
Turning talent into wins can sometimes prove difficult, but Goestenkors has not had that problem while at Duke. During the 2000-01 season, Goestenkors won her 200th career game with the Blue Devils, becoming the third fastest ACC coach in history to reach that mark. In 2002-03, Goestenkors became the all-time winningest coach in Duke history and became the quickest coach in ACC history to reach the 300-win mark in 2004-05 in only 387 games.
In ACC games, Goestenkors has earned a 75.0 winning percentage which is higher than any men’s and women’s coach in ACC history with a minimum of 200 games coached.
Goestenkors’ winning ways have spread to the ever-growing number of Blue Devil fans. In the 2000-01 season, Duke’s attendance figures nearly doubled as almost 4,500 Blue Devil fans came to Cameron Indoor Stadium for each game followed by a school-record 6,237 average in 2003-04. Duke is coming off averaging 6,073 fans in 2005-06.
With such an energetic, positive approach to the game, Goestenkors will continue to lead Duke as it takes its place among the nation’s giants in women’s college basketball.
A native of Waterford, Mich., Goestenkors resides in Hillsborough, N.C.
PERSONAL Full Name Gail Ann Goestenkors Hometown Waterford, Mich. Family Parents, John & Martha
EDUCATION High School Kettering, 1981 College Saginaw Valley State, 1985
PLAYING EXPERIENCE Saginaw Valley State 1981-85 NAIA All-America
COACHING EXPERIENCE Graduate Assistant 1985-86; Iowa State Assistant Coach 1986-92; Purdue Head Coach 1992-present; Duke University Head Coach 1994; ACC All-Star Team Head Coach 1997; U.S. Jones Cup Team Assistant Coach 2002; USA World Championship Assistant Coach 2004; Olympics Head Coach 2005; USA U19 World Championship Assistant Coach 2006; USA World Championship
OTHER AFFILIATIONS Coaches vs. Cancer Durham Big Brothers/Big Sisters Key Volunteer of the Year Girls/Women In Sports (GWIS) Board Member Kodak All-America Selection Committee 1998-2001 NCAA District IV Assistant Coaches Representative (1990-91) USA Basketball Collegiate Committee Ronald McDonald House of Durham Capital Campaign Co-Chair Women’s Basketball Coaches Association WBCA Board of Directors
National Coach of the Year USA Basketball 2006 WBCA/Rawlings 2003 Victor Award 2003 Naismith 2003 GBallMag.com 2002 Basketball Times 2000 Victor Award 1999
Conference Coach of the Year Atlantic Coast 2004 Atlantic Coast 2003 Atlantic Coast 2002 Atlantic Coast 1999 Atlantic Coast 1998 Atlantic Coast 1996
WBCA District Coach of the Year District II 2004 District II 2003 District II 2002 District II 2001 District III 1995