One win from 1,000, Bentley’s Barbara Stevens cherishes job, players

Barbara Stevens doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, but as she approaches history she’s allowed herself to do some reflecting.

And as she’s about to join exclusive company, the Bentley coach isn’t thinking about herself. Instead, she’s cherishing the journey, the people and relationships that made it all possible.

Stevens, who’s in her 32nd season in Waltham and 41st as a head coach, is just one victory away from becoming the fifth NCAA women’s basketball coach of all time to reach 1,000 career wins. It could happen as soon as Wednesday, but the coach is trying to keep the focus the same as it’s always been.

“I’ve been grumpy, because I don’t like this,” Stevens said. “I don’t like the attention on me and not on the team, and I don’t like my focus being distracted.”

It’s part of what got her to this point in the first place. A point she never had in mind when she started all this.

When she graduated from Bridgewater State in 1976, Stevens had a degree in education and thought she would teach and coach in high school. But “a little twist and turn,” she called it, changed the course for good.

She went to Clark to be an assistant for a season, and she was named the head coach the following season, at 23 years of age. With six seasons there, three at UMass, and 32 at Bentley, Stevens has carved out a remarkable coaching career. She’s already won more games than any other coach in Division 2 women’s basketball history.

“I think when I started all of this, I didn’t have any number in mind — that at age such and such I’m not coaching anymore,” Stevens said. “Because this has always been, I think, a very, very … it’s been a tremendous passion. It has been a labor of love, it’s been something that every day I just come in and I’m anxious to see what the day brings.

“I just truly love what I do. The most important thing is the relationships with current and former players that I’ve had. That’s the most meaningful to me. There’s nothing greater to me than to see alums of this program go on and do well, to see alums of my Clark teams and my UMass teams.”

With her next win, Stevens will join Geno Auriemma (UConn), Sylvia Hatchell (North Carolina), the late Pat Summitt (Tennessee) and Tara VanDerVeer (Stanford) as the only coaches to reach 1,000 wins. Being a part of that group is something she can’t begin to fathom.

“For my name to be in the mix, it’s almost surreal to me,” Stevens…

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