BEST LOCAL SPORTS COACH (1998)
Perhaps the best measure of a coach's skills--in any sport, at any level--is how well his teams play away from home, where even the most talented squad can easily stumble and usually nothing less than first-rate preparation and mental toughness allows the visitor to escape with a W. Under Ted Riverso's guidance, the University of St. Thomas women's basketball team has won an astonishing 36 straight regular-season Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference road games. The Tommies are 77-1 overall against conference foes since January of '95. Coach Riverso has racked up an .808 winning percentage during his 14 seasons, and in the '90s, the Tommies boast the second-best winning percentage in all of Division III women's basketball. Riverso's teams can win the big ones too, taking the 1991 NCAA championship and placing third in '95 and '96 (this March, the Tommies made it to the round of eight). And while everyone rails against the money that pollutes big-time Division I programs, Riverso, like all Division III coaches, has to compete with students who get no athletic scholarships. For fans who need a reminder of the old-fashioned values of college sports, this is a team and coach to watch. Look for stories of their exploits buried in a sports section near you.