Michigan State Women’s Basketball Head Coach Suzy Merchant secured her 500th career win on Tuesday with a 73-62 win over Valparaiso. She currently sits at 299 wins at MSU, just one away from becoming just the second coach in school history to reach 300.
After the victory Merchant was joined by her team and family to celebrate the milestone as fans waved 500 signs from the stands. She was then presented with flowers and “5-0-0” balloons and gave a quick thanks to everyone who was with her in her journey to 500.
Merchant began her head coaching career at Saginaw Valley State in 1995 and then moved to Eastern Michigan in 1998 before moving to East Lansing in 2007.
"I’m really blessed that all 500 of mine came in the state of Michigan where I’m from and that doesn’t happen in our business very often. To do it here at Michigan State, growing up wanting to be a Spartan I think (I) just feel blessed and grateful for this opportunity."
She was also extremely grateful to have her family, including her two sons Tyler and Brady with her for the milestone. Their presence led her to reflect on a health scare she had while coaching a few years back that caused her to faint on the sideline.
"The thing I thought about was a few years back when they were a little bit littler ... and I had that heart issue and passed out and they saw mom, not sure what happened," Merchant said. "I’ve never seen my boys like that before, going in the ambulance to a hospital, so tonight to see the smiles on their faces with mom on the court this time. I did think about that today, what their emotions must have been a few years ago to this moment now."
Merchant said that her sons like to talk about the games and what her team can do better when she gets home from work. She even joked that her 500th win might not be the quality that she thinks it was when her sons critique it when she gets home.
Her players however had no critiques.
"I didn’t know it was coming up but I’m really happy," senior guard Nia Clouden said. "That’s a big milestone in coaching especially now, but just really proud. I don’t get to say that much about her since I’m the player but I’m happy she got that."
"I think that’s amazing," graduate student forward Tamara Farquhar said. "I’m so happy. I didn’t even know before the game, so it was a nice surprise at the end."
In her now 500 wins, it is the Big Ten Championship victory that stands out to her at MSU. One of the season ticket holders called "Grandma Pat" that she described as part of the MSU women’s basketball family had recently passed away at the time of the game. Kalisha Keane, who was one of Merchant’s players at the time, came up to her after the win, put her arm around her and looked up to see if "Grandma Pat" had seen them win the title.
"As I look back there’s a million different victories that you’ll just feel so good about," Merchant said. "It’s never about the game, it’s about the people in the game and for Kal to reach out and think about someone else in a moment like that, I think that says a lot about our program and the kids in it."
During her postgame interview messages began rolling in to Merchant from her former players congratulating her on her big win including Lexi Gussert who played for her from 2015-2018. It’s clear in her 15 seasons here at MSU Merchant has built a family that spans generations of Spartans and has many victories.
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