category: Alumni

Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame honors coaching legend, C-N alumna

Before she became a coaching legend, Sylvia Hatchell played for the Orange and Blue, graduating from C-N in 1974. She is pictured (No. 10) with her Carson-Newman teammates.

University of North Carolina coaching legend and 1974 Carson-Newman alumna, Sylvia Hatchell was recognized again by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Hatchell, a 2013 Hall of Fame Inductee, is one of only four women’s basketball coaches to be honored with a bench in the Championship Coaches Legacy Garden in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Hatchell began her coaching career while she was still a student on the banks of Mossy Creek. The Gastonia, North Carolina, native led the 7th and 8th grade girls basketball team of Talbott Elementary School, working practices around her C-N schedule.

She carried her love for coaching to Francis Marion University, which hired her in 1975. She coached the FMU Patriots until 1986, recording a 272-80 record and two national championships – AIAW Division II in 1982 and NAIA in 1986.

With such success, flying under the coaching radar was not an option. Division I was waiting.

In 1986, she took the helm of the women’s Tar Heel basketball program. She led her North Carolina teams from 1986 to 2019, appearing in three Final Fours and earning the 1994 NCAA championship title.

Hatchell is the only basketball coach to have won national championships in the NCAA, the AIAW, and NAIA. Recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Carson-Newman, she is a Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee, and was named National Coach of the Year and received the FCA National Team Sportsmanship Award among other accolades.

Established in 2015, the Naismith Coaches Circle showcases granite benches on a recognition platform paying tribute to coaches who share the same core values of teaching, nurturing, and mentoring their players on the court, while offering perspective off the court.

Sylvia Hatchell Hall of Fame Bench Inscription

In Honor of my parents Carroll and Veda Rhyne, my siblings Phyliss Cooley, Ralph Rhyne, Ronnie Rhyne, my husband Sammy Hatchell, my son Van Hatchell, my grandsons James and Leo Hatchell and all other members of my family.

Thank you to my assistant coaches and staff especially Andrew Calder and Jane High who became family. The 72 players from Francis Marion University and the 156 players from the University from North Carolina who became daughters and sisters who responded in a positive way when I demanded the best from them each and every day. Thank you for being champions.

My many friends from Gastonia, NC, Hunter Huss High School, Unity Baptist Church, Francis Marion University, North Myrtle Beach, SC, Black Mountain, NC, UNC University, Chapel Hill, NC, Smokey (Mtn Girls), UNC Lineberger Cancer Center, Carson-Newman University, University of Tennessee, all the coaches and players from all over the world who I met through USA Basketball and to all the other coaches, colleagues and great opponents who helped make Women’s Basketball great.

Thank you to Athletic Directors at UNC and ACC Commissioner John Swofford and Dick Baddour for giving me the opportunity to have my dream job for 33 years coaching at the University of North Carolina.

To USA Basketball for the opportunity to coach the many USA teams including the 1988 Gold Medal Olympic Basketball team.

Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame 2013

Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

North Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame

South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame

Francis Marion University Hall of Fame

Carson-Newman University Athletics Hall of Fame

Gaston County Sports Hall of Fame

Proverbs 3: 5-6 − Trust in the Lord with all your heart! Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.

Sylvia Hatchell, No. 10, with her Carson-Newman basketball team.

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