Allison McNeill steps down as coach of Canada’s women’s basketball team
From Canada Basketball:
Allison McNeill, who culminated her 11th year at the helm by leading Canada on an inspiring run to the quarter-finals at the Olympic Games in London this past summer, today announced her retirement as head coach of Canada’s senior women’s basketball team.
Speaking from her home in Surrey, British Columbia on a media conference call, McNeill said “I have given my heart and soul to this program and I am truly grateful to have been entrusted with leading the Senior National Team. Through this team my life has been intertwined with such amazing people; incredible women, athletes, coaches and staff. I am so proud to have been on this wonderful journey with each of them.”
She continued to say that while her decision was a difficult one, “I feel like the women’s National Team program is in the best place it has been in during the 16 years I have been involved. I look forward to seeing us on the podium at major competitions in the not so distant future. I will be cheering loudly, knowing that our staff helped build a solid foundation for women’s basketball in Canada.”
“Allison’s contribution to the game and, especially, to the young women who’ve been at the forefront of our resurgence internationally has been huge,” said Canada Basketball President and CEO Wayne Parrish, adding that McNeill had kept the organization’s senior officials apprised of her thinking as she assessed her future over the past few months. “When you think back to the challenging circumstances she faced 10 years ago, you’d have to say that her sheer determination and incredible dedication has everything to do with our being back in the Top 10 globally today. She deserves our tremendous appreciation for a job well done.”
Canada rose to 9th place in the most recent FIBA World Rankings, based on the team’s gritty performance in the Olympic qualifier and then at the Games themselves, where they made a spirited run to the quarter-finals before running into the USA juggernaut, on its way to another gold medal.
On her future McNeill said “I will be working at the grassroots level inspiring young basketball players to want to play for Canada. Mike (her husband and assistant coach) and I have had a wonderful run and we are excited to start doing some other things in basketball and to spend more time with family and friends.”
She concluded by acknowledging her coaching staff “I would like to thank Lisa Thomaidis, Anne Marie Thuss and Mike McNeill who have been working with this team for ten years and are a big reason why this program is back in the top 10 in the World. I would also like to thank all of the coaches, physiotherapists, doctors and the Canada Basketball staff who have all been so supportive. And of course, I would like to thank all of the athletes I have coached for their dedication and passion when playing for Canada.”
McNeill retires as the longest-serving national team women’s head coach – second only to Jack Donohue’s 17 seasons on the men’s side. In FIBA competitions including World Championships, Olympic Games and qualification tournaments, her 24 international wins trail only Don McCrae’s 27 with the women’s program and Donohue’s 45 with the men’s. In her tenure as head coach of Team Canada in all age groups, she has accumulated a total of 184 games.
Prior to taking on the leadership of the national senior women’s team in 2002, McNeill was part of the coaching staff of the country’s youth, junior and senior teams beginning in 1996.