Tanya Haave, one of Colorado’s best basketball stars, now coaches MSU Denver

Those who watched Tanya Haave play basketball and volleyball for Evergreen High School disagree on which sport was her best.

“I’ve known Tanya since she was an eighth-grader because someone up at Evergreen said, ‘Hey Alice, this kid up in Evergreen is really good,” Alice “Cookie” Barron, a Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame member, said. “We started watching her. She’s one of the best.”

In 1980, Haave became the first girl to win the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame’s High School Athlete of the Year for her success in volleyball and basketball.

After high school, she went to the University of Tennessee where she played both sports for the Lady Volunteers. Ultimately, she chose basketball, quitting volleyball after two years in college. As a Lady Volunteer, Haave played for legendary basketball coach Pat Summitt and helped her team to three Final Four appearances. She graduated as the team’s all-time leading scorer.

Today, Haave coaches the MSU Denver women’s basketball team. She uses the lessons she learned from Summitt to guide her teams.

“Pat wasn’t going to get outworked. She was going to do everything she could to make her teams be the best they could be,” Haave said. “Those are the things she taught us. I’m coaching because of her.”

Once upon a time, Haave said she had ambitions to coach at a bigger school. But she’s found a “sweet spot” at Metro where she has a chance to prepare women for life through the game of basketball.

Players learn to deal with adversity and conflict, work together as team, negotiate and make sacrifices for the good of the whole, Haave said. Her players have gone on to become computer programmers, veterinarians and consultants, and many other professions.

“If there’s anything athletics teach you, it’s about accountability,” Haave said. “You win or lose. You do it or you don’t. And you fight through adversity.”

Title IX has done so much for women, she said.

“They can go into business and the corporate world. I don’t think you would have as much of that without this,” she said. “What it’s done in athletics has just been tremendous. I can hardly wait to see what the next 50 years bring.”

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