Vanessa Nygaard Bio: Coaching, Spouse & Brittney Griner

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Vanessa Nygaard is a professional basketball coach and former player in the WNBA.

She held the position of head coach for the Phoenix Mercury, a prominent team in the WNBA, but in June 2023, the team announced that they parted ways with the coach appointing Nikki Blue as the interim head coach of the team for the remainder of the 2023 season.

In addition to her coaching responsibilities in the WNBA, she also serves as the head coach for the girls’ basketball team at Windward School in Los Angeles.

Her expertise and passion for the game have propelled her to great success in basketball.

Vanessa Nygaard
Vanessa Nygaard (Source: OutVoices)

Phoenix Mercury hired her as the head coach in late January 2022.

Her first season with the team was tumultuous as it had recently reached the finals of the WNBA and boasted three gold medalists from the Tokyo Olympics.

However, she has used her expertise to take the lead of the team and has been doing a fantastic job.

Quick Facts

Full Name Vanessa Nygaard
Known As Vanessa Nygaard
Birthdate March 13, 1975
Age 49 Years Old
Birthplace  Scottsdale, Arizona, United States
Current Residence Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Father Not Known
Mother Not Known
Siblings Two Brothers
Nationality American
Marital Status Married
Spouse Kristine
Children Emerson Nygaard, Bryce Nygaard, and Avery Nygaard
Built Athletic
Sexual Orientation Lesbian
Eye Color Dark Brown
Hair Color Blonde
Height 6 ft 1 in/1.85 m/185 cm
Weight 175 lb/79 kg
Ethnicity White American
Horoscope Pisces
Religion Not Known
Profession Professional Basketball Coach
Education Stanford University
Association Phoenix Mercury (former)
NFL Draft 1998 / Round: 4 / Pick: 39th overall/ New York Liberty
Playing Career 1999-2003
Position Forward
Played For Cleveland Rockers, Portland Fire, Miami Sol, Los Angeles Sparks
Coached Long Beach State, Pepperdine, San Antonio Stars, Windward School, Las Vegas Aces
Net Worth $1-$5 Million
Salary $120,000
Social Media Inactive
Last Update May 2024


After graduating high school in California, Vanessa attended Stanford University from 1993 to 1998.

During her time at the university, she was a standout player for their renowned women’s basketball team, known as The Cardinal.

Under her leadership, the team achieved remarkable success, accumulating a remarkable 113-14 overall record, including an exceptional 69-2 record within the Pacific-10 Conference.

They made it to three Final Fours, showcasing their dominance in college basketball.

In addition to her athletic achievements, Nygaard also excelled academically at Stanford. She graduated in 1998 with a major in American Studies, showcasing her commitment to both her studies and her athletic career.

WNBA Career

After completing her college career at Stanford, Nygaard embarked on a successful six-year journey in the WNBA.

She was drafted by the New York Liberty in the fourth round (39th overall pick) of the 1998 WNBA Draft. Unfortunately, injuries kept her out of action for most of the 1998 and 1999 seasons.

Vanessa Nygaard During Her Playing Career
Vanessa Nygaard During Her Playing Career (Source: Instagram)

However, she made a strong comeback and became a key player for the Portland Fire in 2000 and 2001 and later for the Miami Sol in 2002. She also had stints with the Cleveland Rockers, Charlotte Sting, and Los Angeles Sparks.

In 2004, Nygaard signed a free-agent contract with the Houston Comets but was eventually waived during the training camp.


Following her playing career, Vanessa transitioned into coaching. She started as an assistant coach at California State University, Long Beach, in 2003 and then moved to Pepperdine University in 2004.

In 2008, she joined the San Antonio Silver Stars as an assistant coach and helped guide the team to the WNBA finals.

She later served as an assistant coach for the Washington Mystics in 2009. Nygaard found success as the head coach of the girls’ basketball team at Windward School, winning three state titles.

She also worked as an assistant coach for USA Basketball and joined the Las Vegas Aces staff in 2021. Nygaard was appointed head coach of the Phoenix Mercury in January 2022.

However, the team fired her in June 2023 after appointing Nikkie Blue as the interim head coach of the team for the remainder of the 2023 season.

Wife & Kids

Vanessa Nygaard enjoys a happy and successful marriage with her spouse, Kristine Nygaard.

The couple has been together for several years, and their relationship is enduringly strong. Vanessa credits her spouse for being a supportive partner, allowing her to excel in her coaching career.

Vanessa Nygaard Coaching
Vanessa Nygaard Coaching (Source: Sports360AZ)

Kristine often attends her team’s games and provides firm support. The couple has three children, Emerson, Bryce, and Avery, together, with their youngest being twins.  

Vanessa’s family is highly supportive, making it easier for her to balance coaching and family life.

Professionally, Nygaard has achieved numerous accolades and awards in women’s basketball, and she continues to thrive and contribute to the sport.

Net Worth

As of May 2024, Vanessa has accumulated a net worth ranging from $1 to $5 million, primarily attributed to her successful career as a player and coach.

Her accomplishments on the court and contributions to the sport have enabled her to build a respectable financial foundation.

Vanessa held the prestigious position of head coach for the Phoenix Mercury. In this role, she established herself as a respected figure in the basketball world.

It has been reported that Vanessa earned an annual salary of approximately $120,000 for her coaching responsibilities, further solidifying her financial success and recognition within the sport.

Vanessa Nygaard & Brittney Griner

In response to the harassment incident involving WNBA star Brittney Griner at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the leadership of the Phoenix Mercury took swift action to prioritize the safety of their players during travel, according to head coach Vanessa Nygaard.

The incident occurred when Griner, along with her teammates, was en route to a game on 11 June 2023, and a man approached her in a confrontational manner, as reported by a source familiar with the incident.

The WNBA described the man as a “social media provocateur” who directed verbal abuse at Griner, specifically mentioning “the Merchant of Death.”

Brittney Griner
Vanessa On Brittney Griner Travel Safety (Source: CNN)

This reference likely stems from Griner’s previous wrongful detention in Russia, where she spent close to 300 days before being released in a prisoner exchange involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is infamously known as the “Merchant of Death.”

It’s worth noting that this exchange had drawn criticism from some Republicans, who expressed concerns about the release of a potentially dangerous prisoner back to Russia, as previously reported by CNN.

The altercation at the airport escalated, leading to the man being tackled and police intervening, according to the source.

In light of this incident, the Phoenix Mercury’s leadership, led by then-head coach Vanessa Nygaard, pledged to make necessary adjustments to ensure the travel safety of their players.

Details about the specific changes or measures they plan to implement have not been disclosed at this time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

How tall is Vanessa Nygaard?

Nygaard is 1.85 meters tall and weighs about 175 lbs.

Pranaya Poudel
Pranaya Poudel
Stargazer, & Rock n' Roller I Pranaya Poudel, am a content writer and editor for Coffee lover and kind of a loner. Favorite Teams: Milwaukee Bucks (NBA), Kansas City Chiefs (NFL) Favorite Players: Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden & Patrick Mahomes FYI I believe in Alien!!!

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