March 12, 2014
Tom Richardson (pictured above between assistant coaches Yanni Hufnagel, left, and David Cason, right) is in the middle of his 11th season alongside head coach Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt. The 59-year-old has spent nearly 40 years coaching basketball at the high school and college levels. The Chicago native spends his free time with his wife, Nancy, and visiting his three children Mary Beth, 32, Katie, 30, and Matt, 22. He also enjoys visiting his soon-to-be two-year-old granddaughter, Brynn.
Was coaching always your goal?
I pretty much got into coaching right after college. So it was in my blood early. I coached two Chicago-area schools before going to Illinois State as an assistant coach. I think this is season 37. Sixteen years in high school, 21st in college. Season 38. I don’t really count them anymore. We grew up a family of five boys, so we were always playing sports. We were always playing sports. My two youngest brothers both were in coaching and coached. They are in the high school level right now. It is kind of in the family.
Did you ever think you would be coaching for this long?
Coaching is a career that can be short term. It can be long term. It just depends. You don’t look at it as that far out. You kind of enjoy what you’re doing. I’m sure I can do something else, but fortunately I haven’t had to do anything else yet.
What have you enjoyed the most about coaching?
By far the best thing is the relationships in coaching, both with your peers and the kids you coached. That trumps everything. Then there are a lot of unique things you get to do and travel and so forth that you probably wouldn’t have ever done. I’ve been all over the world, basketball-related. I have friends from other countries. That type of stuff is the neat part of the job.
How was the experience to coach at Illinois State (from 1999-2003 after Stallings left)?
It was good. I’m from Illinois. So to be a coach at a big university in your home state is school. It had its ups and downs. but it was a very, very rewarding experience for me. Being on the staff with Coach Stallings, I’ve been in his shoes. So I have some experiences that can help at times. To have another guy who has been a head coach, experience can help.
What is it about Vanderbilt that has kept you here for 11 years?
I love Vanderbilt. I love the culture of the school. To me, it stands for everything that’s right with the university and with the sports program. It is such a great culture around here. You meet so many smart and different people; it can only make you better.
Do you take a lot of pride in what you and Coach Stallings have built here?
Absolutely. Being at Vanderbilt provides a unique set of challenges in today’s NCAA climate. All universities have their challenges. We’ve been able to embrace those challenges. The great thing about Vanderbilt is the type of individual you get to coach.
Could you see yourself retiring at Vanderbilt and living in Nashville?
Yeah, sure. We’ve talked about that. This could become home, much depends on the kids and all that. But it is not a bad place to be, for sure. Although I just came back from Ft. Lauderdale. It is nice down there too. 82 and sunny. Not bad.