Phoenix Mercury reportedly hire Vanessa Nygaard as head coach

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The Phoenix Mercury have hired Vanessa Nygaard as their next head coach, according to The Athletic.

The former Las Vegas Aces assistant is expected to be officially announced on Monday.

Prior to her coaching career in the WNBA, Nygaard competed in the league as a player from 1998 to 2005, following up a stellar collegiate campaign at Stanford. The Scottsdale native joins a growing list of WNBA players turned coaches, with 50 percent of the league’s teams now run by former competitors.

Nygaard began coaching in 2003, starting as an assistant at Cal State Long Beach before serving on Pepperdine’s staff for a season. Making the jump to the WNBA in 2008, Nygaard served on Dan Hughes’ San Antonio Stars staff and then as an assistant with the Washington Mystics in 2009. After leading Team USA youth teams in 2017 and 2018, Nygaard returned to the WNBA, joining the Aces as an assistant for the 2021 season.

The 46-year-old has been on league insiders’ coaching shortlists for some time, making the cut on Just Women’s Sports’ list of leading head coach candidates.

Nygaard replaces Sandy Brondello, whose contract with the Mercury ended at the beginning of 2022. Phoenix finished last year with a 19-13 regular-season record, falling to the Chicago Sky in the WNBA Finals.