Dani Sinclair steps down as UVic women’s basketball coach

Dani Sinclair has stepped down as head coach of the University of Victoria Vikes women’s baskeball team after eight seasons, citing personal reasons, and saying it was one of the hardest choices of her life.

“It was a very hard and difficult decision for me,” said the 40-year-old.

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“I came to play for the Vikes when I was 22, and then I coached them, so UVic and the Island are a huge part of who I am. I have spent my whole adult life here. UVic was the school I idolized growing up in Ontario. I never thought I would have the chance to come play here, win here, and eventually coach the Vikes. A huge piece of my heart will always remain here, but I just have to step away right now.”

Sinclair was open, during an interview, in stating that a marriage separation involving three sons under 10 was a major consideration in moving back to Ontario, where her former husband has been transferred.

“It is personal circumstances,” she said.

“We both have family in Ontario and I think it’s important for the boys to be around family and all their cousins. I have to think of my family first; and this move is what is best for them”

Sinclair played two seasons for the Vikes and captained UVic to its ninth national title in 2002-03 and was named first team Canada West and all-Canadian in the process. She began her career with three seasons on the McMaster Marauders of Hamilton, earning the Kathy Shields Award as CIS (now U Sports) rookie of the year in 2000-01.

Sinclair was UVic assistant coach under Brian Cheng from 2006 to 2009. She was appointed interim head coach in April 2012, replacing Rich Chambers, and cemented the role permanently the following season. The Vikes never missed the playoffs under Sinclair as bench boss and she accumulated a 105-59 record and has the fourth-most wins in team history.

The Vikes were 12-8 this past season and 1-1 in the playoffs, losing to the eventual U Sports national champion University of Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West quarter-finals.

“We respect and understand Dani’s decision to leave our program. We all understand it is a family-first decision,” said UVic athletic director Clint Hamilton.

“We are sad to see her go but we thank her for many contributions to UVic as a student-athlete, assistant coach and head coach.”

Sinclair is rumoured to be taking over the vacant head coaching position at Carleton University in Ottawa.

“There is some discussion around it. The job is unfilled and it is something I have to work through,” she said.

Ironically, Cheng held the Carleton job on an interim basis this season.

Meanwhile, UVic announced: “As of April 3, assistant coach Shalie Dheensaw will provide oversight of the program and help support the student-athletes. Further details with respect to the women’s basketball program leader position will be forthcoming.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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