Taylor named coach of the year

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Cougars women’s basketball head coach Dave Taylor stands strategizing with and encouraging the team.
Dave Taylor pictured riling up the roster for yet another win. Arthur Images

The women’s basketball head coach was elected by his peers and credits the support surrounding him 

For the second time in his 17 years as head coach for the Cougars women’s basketball team, Dave Taylor was voted in as Canada West Coach of the Year.  

This award is selected by all coaches in a single league, which Taylor noted as a strength. “The Can [Canada] West is done by a vote from the coaches in Can West, so that’s why it’s nice – it’s my peers voting me in.”  

Taylor started pitching in with the women’s basketball team 30 years ago when Christine Stapleton was head coach, continued assisting while Jeff Speedy was in the role, and credits his current position in part to consistency and determination. “I’ve been around a long time but it’s just taking advantage of the opportunities that were there, and then really just staying with it.“ 

Taylor was not shy about the low points through his journey, but noted they were not weathered alone. “The first two years that I started as an assistant coach we were weak, and then Christine did a really good job recruiting, building up, […] and got to the point in her second-last year where we won the national title in 2001.”  

“We’ve got a really good staff of assistant coaches,” Taylor added, referencing the current team. “Wayne Morrison’s been around for a few years now and Carly Graham, a former player of mine, helps. We’ve added a full time assistant coach this year, Michaela Kleisinger, who had played for us and then did her master’s at Alberta. Having a really strong staff helps, obviously.” 

In addition to help during practices and on the court itself, the head coach noted that his family has played a large role. “It gets forgotten sometimes with coaches, but I’ve got a really strong support system at home with my wife and kids. Coaching involves a lot of sacrifices, partially on their end, so it’s funny. I kind of get the award, but it’s really based on having great staff, a supportive family, and great players. I’m the one who gets it, but if none of that stuff is in place, it doesn’t happen.” 

Taylor strongly emphasized the team’s role in his win, noting the “bittersweet” feelings this year because the last time he won this same award, the team also made it to nationals. That being said, he noted an impressive jump in track record: “We were 8-8 last year in conference, and this year we go 17-3.”  

“It looked like a big jump,” he continued, “but I think a lot of people knew [to expect] that based on last year, we had so many rookies last year. We were still a young team [this year], but I think people expected us to be better; I don’t know if everybody expected us to be as good as we were.” 

Despite this season having come to a close, Taylor mentioned that next year’s team will begin their off-season training this spring. He explained this involves three to four weekly sessions of strength training and conditioning, and the players must find time to practice shooting independently.  

“That’s obviously the Regina players,” he specified, “the players who go home just have to find places they can do the same thing. Versus in-season, where we’re five times a week practice or games [sic], we’re still doing the weights, still doing the shooting. So you know, in-season we’re probably [meeting] twice as much.”  

The off-season training was noted as one main reason for the team’s recent improvement. Taylor said that previously “the teams still trained in the off-season, but it wasn’t as much. It’s like every sport, and even the kids growing up have just done more. My alumni always bug me when I say that the basketball players [now] are better, and I don’t mean that they’re better – they just grew up playing it earlier. […] if those players were doing the same type of training these are now, they absolutely would more than fit in.” 

Taylor has clearly put considerable thought and care into his coaching approach over his decades in the position, and the Cougars women’s basketball team’s track record is just one display of his effort. Keep your eyes peeled for the announcement of next year’s game schedule. 

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