The University of Victoria Vikes have appointed Shalie Dheensaw as the Interim Program Leader for the 2020-21 women’s basketball season effective as of April 6.

“Shalie has made a strong contribution to our women’s basketball program over the past two years and has established important relationships with returning players and a number of incoming student-athletes. Shalie has accepted increasing levels of leadership in her time with the Vikes and has displayed a tremendous commitment to being a professional coach, investing significantly in herself to prepare for a head coaching opportunity,” said Clint Hamilton, Director of Vikes Athletics and Recreation.

After eight seasons with the Vikes and leading the program into the Canada West quarterfinals and a 12-8 regular season record last season, Dani Sinclair stepped down from her role as head coach on March 10. Sinclair leaves the Vikes with a 105-59 record. She racked up the fourth-most wins and enjoyed the third-longest tenure behind the bench.

Her assistant for the past two seasons was Dheensaw.

Dheensaw played with Canada Basketball on the U16 and U17 level before playing for the Washington State University Cougars. From 2011-15, she appeared in 112 games and started her final 50 games and finished her career with 535 points, 307 rebounds and 98 blocked shots (fifth-most in WSU history). She also coached the varsity team at Pullman High School, worked as a graduate assistant with the University of Washington Huskies for one season and later served as an assistant coach with the Cougars.
“I am very thankful to UVic and the Vikes for considering me for this position. It’s bittersweet for me, as Dani gave me two incredible years working together. She made me feel less like an assistant and more like an equal, which is why I feel so confident and ready to take on the interim role,” said Dheensaw. “We have an incredible group of players returning to our roster and I am extremely excited to work with the four recruits coming in. I believe the program is well positioned to move to the next level in Canada West competition.”

With Dheensaw’s assistance, the Vikes registered a 24-16 record while advancing to the quarterfinals each season. She becomes the eighth head coach of the women’s program.

Joining Dheensaw’s staff will be Rob Poole, who will serve as an assistant coach.

“Rob Poole has extensive experience coaching at all levels. He is a consummate professional, an outstanding teacher with strong basketball technical knowledge. He quickly established MacEwan as a competitive university program when that institution moved into U SPORTS status. He is an ideal compliment to Shalie and we are confident that our women’s basketball program will be well led as we transition through this challenging time,” said Hamilton.

Poole brings 37 years of head coaching experience to the Vikes. At the collegiate level, he served as the head coach for the Grant MacEwan University Griffins during the 2014-15 season, where he led them to a 16-4 record and second in the then-Explorer Division. They later lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual Canada West bronze medalists from the University of Alberta.

When the Griffins competed in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) ranks, Poole led the program to conference championships for the 2011-12 (where the Griffins went 23-0) and 2013-14 seasons. He also picked up ACAC Coach of the Year honours during those championship years and was named the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association National Coach of the Year in 2011-12. He left the Griffins with a 117-31 regular season record and posted a .667 playoff winning percentage.

Poole comes to the Vikes with a Bachelor of Education and a graduate diploma in School Librarianship from the nearby University of Alberta. He also obtained his Masters in Sport Psychology from UVic, where he also served as an assistant coach under Ken Shields with the men’s basketball team for the 1986-87 season.

As with all our varsity programs, women’s basketball is currently decentralized, as student-athletes are focused on completing their academics via remote learning, while working on individualized fitness and skill development. Coaches Dheensaw and Poole will support our student-athletes and incoming recruits remotely in preparation for the 2020-21 Canada West season.