Lavallee, Fairbrother to return as Assistant Coaches

(ISN) – University of Saskatchewan Huskie women’s basketball head coach Lisa Thomaidis will be taking her professional leave of absence during the 2012-13 season.

Taking over the reins of the Canada West bronze medalist Huskies as the interim head coach will be Jillian Humbert. Humbert has been an assistant coach with the Huskies for the last season and played five years with the squad. Jacqueline Lavallee, entering her 10th year with the team, and Ali Fairbrother, entering her 13th year with the team, will continue with the team in the roles of assistant coaches.

“Taking this interim position is an exciting opportunity for me,” said Humbert. “It is a chance to help build upon the amazing success this program has had over the last few years. I have a passion for Huskie basketball.”

Humbert spent five seasons in a Huskies uniform from 2006 to 2011 and helped the team to the most successful seasons in program history. The former point guard and team captain holds the team record for assists and three-point field goals in a season and played four times at the CIS Championship winning a bronze in 2009-10 and a silver medal in 2010-11.

She also played an integral part in the 2010-11 Canada West Championship victory, as well as won the Canada West and CIS Sylvia Sweeney Award for athletics, academics and community service in that season. Humbert, a 2010-11 Canada West First Team All-Star, also represented Canada twice in 2011 at the World University Games and at the Pan-American Games, where she played under the tutelage of national team coach Alison McNeill.

“Jill’s experience as my assistant coach, along with the guidance from Jacqueline [Lavallee] and Ali [Fairbrother], will help ensure a seamless transition for the program while I step away for a year,” said Thomaids. “Jill has been the face of our program for the last number of years. She was an outstanding student-athlete at the UofS, who has represented us on the national and international stage. Her understanding of the game and ability to communicate is second to none. Most importantly, Jill is an exceptional human being with tremendous character. I am thrilled that she will be leading the Huskies next season and have the utmost faith in her coaching ability.”

During the leave, Thomaidis will take time for professional development opportunities, as well as continue to work with the Canadian Women’s National Team during their bid for a trip to the Olympics. Since joining the Huskie Athletics’ coaching staff in 1998, Thomaidis has been named Canada West Coach of the Year four times and CIS Coach of the Year twice. She has guided the Huskies’ to two Canada West Championships and six appearances at the CIS Championship in the last seven years.

“Having the ability to take a year away from the profession I love speaks volumes to the commitment that the University and Huskie Athletics has to its coaches,” said Thomaidis. “It shows a genuine respect for the demands of the coaching profession and will allow me to come back to the Huskies as a coach with the passion and energy to lead the team to many more successful seasons.”

Humbert is currently working with the team and the Junior Huskie Program. She will begin her interim head coach position on August 1.