Whenever the University of Victoria Vikes resume basketball games inside the CARSA Performance Gym, two prominent members of the program will be making their long awaited return – one drastically longer than the other.
Taylor Montgomery-Stinson is returning after spending last season as a redshirt while recovering from a serious knee injury. His mother, Lynn Montgomery, will be an assistant with the Vikes women’s team, decades after she ran up and down the court at McKinnon Gym with the Vikes.
“I thought it was really cool when she told me about the job. She was a big influence in my basketball career and coached me a little bit as well,” said the 6-foot-3 Montgomery-Stinson. “It’ll be cool to have her there at the same time. I’m looking forward to it.”
When Shalie Dheensaw took over as the eighth head coach (interim) in Vikes history, she needed to round out her coaching staff. Keeping it local, she went after an icon in the community circles.
“Lynn coached me when I was in middle school, so I know what she’s like from a player’s perspective,” said Dheensaw. “She is a really positive person. She’s straight to the point without being negative or disrespectful. She builds players up while not being fluffy or soft. It’s a tough line to walk, but she does it quite well.”
Before Montgomery accepted the job, she had to run it by one person.
“I had to ask (Taylor) if he was going to be OK with the decision because I didn’t want to intrude on his space,” said Montgomery, who has taught and coached basketball at Stelly’s Secondary School for the past 15 years. “He’s a pretty easy going guy and he thought it would be a fun opportunity. I’m excited for the both of us to get back at it.”
In her hay day, Montgomery was a part of golden age of Vikes basketball. She spent the 1985-86 season with the junior varsity program and played the next two seasons with the varsity club, highlighted by winning the program’s 10th national title during the 1986-87 season. She played 25 games with the varsity Vikes and helped amass an incredible 21-4 record over those two years. She hung around the program as a coach with the women’s junior varsity program from 1988-91.
Since then, she has been in and around the Greater Victoria Area teaching and coaching the next generations of hoopsters.
“I’ve been coaching all these years – middle school, high school and provincial level, along with some work with the Vikes Nation program and the Regional Training Centre. I just thought it was a good time to change it up and work with an older group,” said Montgomery.
Even with the departure of three impact veterans (Morgan Roskelley, Kristy Gallagher and Katie Langdon), the Vikes return a strong unit that went 12-8 last season including 69-49 playoff win at home over the University of Regina Cougars.
“We’re just getting going now, so I’m working at getting to know each of them through online meetings and small practices for those who are around,” said Montgomery. “I hope I can provide Shae with some stability, knowledge, a calming presence and just support our players.”
Her support helped bring her son to near-game shape after a torn ACL wiped out his 2019-20 season.
“I’m not going to lie, it sucked missing all last year, especially watching our guys in the playoffs. I wanted to be out there so bad,” said Montgomery-Stinson, a shooting guard. “I used the support of my family, teammates, coaches and other athletes to get me through it.”
Not only did he have his mom to lean on during his down year, but his dad, too, who also played for the Vikes.
Scott Stinson played with the junior varsity Vikes from 1980-83 and was an assistant under Guy Vetrie in the early 1990s.
“One thing my parents helped me develop is my leadership. They’re pushing me to get out there and set examples during quarantine. One of the things I’ve done is organize team meetings online, have some fun with the guys and try to get us ready for whenever we can get back out there,” said Montgomery-Stinson.
But Montgomery-Stinson brings so much more to the table than his ability to organize a zoom call.
The local product posted career-high 8.8 points per game during the 2018-19 season and shot the deep ball at a career-best rate of 41.6 per cent.
“Taylor is a two-way player who helps impact winning with his ability to contribute on both sides of the ball. He is a strong shooter and provides a lot of value to our team with his ability to space the floor. Taylor is a hard-nosed, scrappy player, who before his injury, was often tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best offensive player.” said Vikes men’s basketball assistant coach Josh Mullen. “He’s been in for workouts and he’s looking good physically. He looks confident in his knee and we are excited to see where he goes from here.”
Montgomery-Stinson will be the elder statesmen on the squad this year, as he enters his seventh year with the program in his fifth year of eligibility.
“I’m really excited about the team. We have a good group of guys with some great personalities. We are all really motivated and hungry to go deep into the playoffs – if we get the opportunity to play this year,” said Montgomery-Stinson.
What the 2020-21 season will look like is still up in the air. Regardless if it is a condensed schedule or strictly training sessions, the mother-son combo is looking forward to getting back on the court around one another again.
“It’s a big year for the both of us, but especially for Taylor as he comes back from his injury in his final year. It’ll be great to see him around the building and watch his games after ours,” said Montgomery. “It will be a special year for the two of us, no matter what happens.”