By Ned Bekavac
If she’s as good a leader off the court as she was on it, the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team is in great hands this season.
Guelph’s Dani Sinclair (nee Everitt) is taking over coaching duties of the Vikes for the 2012-2013 season.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for me, though not under the best circumstances,” says Sinclair.
Due to personal reasons, Vikes head coach Rich Chambers is unable to fulfill the day-to-day head coaching responsibilities for the 2012-13 season, so Sinclair is the go-to gal.
The Vikes program is one that is near and dear to her, as she’s been assistant coach of the team and back in 2002-2003 she captained the squad to the national women’s basketball title.
“I have a huge loyalty to this program, so it’s kind of a seamless fit,” says Sinclair, of her new job, dubbed “associate coach.”
Sinclair, a St. James high school graduate, is these days a wife, a mom and a coach. Along with the Vikes’ job, she’s coach of the under-15 British Columbia girls provincial team.
Asked how busy she is and how she pulls it all off, Sinclair says: “I have a really supportive husband.”
Back in her playing days, Sinclair was CIS Rookie of The Year and a three-time OUA All-Star with McMaster before scoring the national title with Victoria.
She still keeps fit by running and such, but says you won’t often see her tightening up her sneakers to play some basketball against current Vikes players.
“When you’re not very good anymore, you don’t really want to lose their respect,” Sinclair says, with a laugh.
The Vikes exhibition schedule this season includes a game at Guelph against the Gryphons.
It takes place on Friday Oct. 26.
Sinclair is pumped for it.
“It’s awesome,” she says, of the chance for her team to play in Guelph.
As preparations continue for the 2012-2013 basketball season, Sinclair took part in a Tribune Q&A.
Q: What do you recall about the first time – or one of the first times – you played basketball as a youngster?
A: I was 13 when I started playing organized basketball and it was for the school team at St. Paul’s. I was a really shy kid, but was pretty good at basketball and it gave me confidence on and off the court. It was a way for me to break out of my shell. I owe a lot to playing sports at a young age and the great coaches that I had. It probably kept me out of a lot of trouble.
Q: You won the national basketball title with Victoria. Where is that ring at today? Can you tell us something about that season.
A: No ring, but the medal is in my childhood closet at my mom’s house in Guelph.
It’s funny when we talk about that season, because up until the nationals we were pretty inconsistent as a team. We were however extremely close and had a lot of TOUGH girls on that team.
We squeezed our way into nationals and then everything just clicked at the right time – nothing was going to get in our way. The coolest thing for me was that the nationals were held at McMaster that year. My whole family was there and a bunch of old friends and coaches. It is my favourite basketball moment for sure.
Q: What are the three most-played songs on your iPod?
A: I have a two year old, so these days it’s a lot of Raffi. But when I do get to decide, lately it’s Shad: Compromise; Bahamas: Lost In The Light; Stars: Fixed.
Q: How often are you back in Guelph and, aside from visiting family and friends, what are three must-do things for you upon return?
A: I try to make it home at least once a year. 1) I used to always try and make it to some summer scrimmages with the Gryphons, but I think I’m too old to hang with players of that level anymore.
2) Go to my favourite restaurant “Bollywood.”
3) Hang out at Stone Road Mall.
Q: Can you relay a cool story you recall about your playing days at St. James?
A: Well, I don’t know if anything I did in high school was very cool……
St. James was such a great place to go to school.
Awesome teachers, coaches, students – it was small enough that you knew everyone and there was a great athletic community there. There have been some incredible athletes that have come out of there. I enjoyed the whole experience playing there, but the person who comes to mind the most is Frank Cecchetto. He was the girls basketball coach for much of my time there, and had a huge influence on me.
Q: What is one thing that is challenging about making a transition from playing basketball to coaching it?
A: As a player it is almost completely about basketball. As a coach, the on-court coaching part of the job is actually a small part of what you do.
Q: It’s a Saturday night and you’re doing nothing basketball-related. What might you be up to?
A: Sleeping. I used to lead a more exciting life, but having kids makes staying at home and watching a movie much more appealing.
Q: Where do you see yourself basketball-wise and life-wise in, say, seven years?
A: Basketball wise-I’d like to continue coaching at the CIS level, and also keep working with youth in the community.
Life-wise: Enjoying watching my kids grow up and discover their passions in life (it’s O.K. if it’s not basketball or sport related).
Q: Can pass me your favourite:
• Band or musician: A Tribe Called Quest
• Actor: Mark-Paul Gosselaar
• Actress: Tiffani Amber Thiessen
• Movie: Rudy
• TV show: Jeopardy
• Food: Salmon
• Drink: Good coffee
• NBA team: Celtics
• Sport aside from basketball: Fastball (Go Guelph Gators!).