CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Legendary Virginia women’s basketball head coach Debbie Ryan will be honored at UVA’s National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) celebration on Sunday, Feb. 18, when the Cavaliers host Syracuse (2 p.m.).  TICKETS

Since 1996, the Virginia Department of Athletics and the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center have collaborated in a celebration of NGWSD, an event that brings national attention to the achievements of female athletes and issues facing girls and women in sport.

In addition to honoring Ryan at halftime, Virginia Athletics will host a NGWSD pregame youth sports festival on the concourse of John Paul Jones Arena from 12:30–1:50 p.m. The festival will include multiple sports stations for youth to participate and feature UVA student-athletes from its football, field hockey, rowing, volleyball, women’s golf and women’s lacrosse programs. Youth who are in eighth grade and under completing all the sport stations will receive a complimentary t-shirt. Doors will open at 12:30 p.m., and admission to the festival is free with a game ticket.

2023 National Girls & Women in Sports Day Youth Festival

After serving as an assistant coach for two years, Ryan became UVA’s third women’s basketball head coach in 1977 and led the Cavaliers for 34 seasons. Her teams earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament 24 times, including three consecutive Final Four appearances from 1990-92. Ryan guided the Cavaliers to three ACC Tournament titles and 11 ACC regular-season championships.

She was honored as the Naismith Coach of the Year in 1991 by the Atlanta Tipoff Club and remains the only women’s basketball coach to be named ACC Coach of the Year seven times. Ryan finished her tenure at UVA with a record of 736-323. She is currently one of 10 head coaches in Division-I women’s basketball history to tally at least 700 wins at the same institution. In 2008 – while she was still head coach at UVA – Ryan was enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.

Ryan guided the Hoos to 24 NCAA Tournament appearances, including three consecutive Final Four appearances from 1990-92.

Ryan was also a six-time head coach for USA Basketball. In 1997, the Virginia General Assembly honored Ryan for her success, and she was also named the Outstanding Woman of the Year by the Virginia Women’s Forum in 1991.

A 1975 graduate of Ursinus College, Ryan earned her graduate degree from UVA’s Curry School of Education in 1977, after which she began her first season as Cavalier head coach.

In 2000, Ryan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Alongside former Virginia state senator and Charlottesville native Emily Couric, Ryan successfully led efforts to build a cancer treatment center on Grounds. In 2010, the University opened the Emily Couric Cancer Center. Now more than 23-years cancer free, Ryan currently serves as the Principal Gifts Officer for UVA Health System Development.

Recent honorees of Virginia’s NGWSD celebration include letterwinners from UVA’s first three women’s varsity teams (field hockey, basketball and tennis), Sharlene Brightly, UVA’s first African-American woman to participate in intercollegiate competition, and NFL Vice President of Health and Safety Initiatives Jennifer Langton.

Debbie Ryan (right) and 1995 All-ACC selection Jenny Boucek (left), who played at Virginia from 1993-96.