Former Salmon Arm Jewel Allison McNeill, who culminated her 11th year at the helm of the senior women’s basketball team by leading Canada on an inspiring run to the quarter-finals at the Olympic Games in London this past summer, has announced her retirement as head coach.
McNeill made the announcement from her home in Surrey.
“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.”
While her decision was a difficult one, she says the time is right.
“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.”
Canada Basketball President/CEO Wayne Parrish offered his praise.
“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,” he said. “When you think back to the challenging circumstances she faced in 2002, 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 ninth 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.
As for her future, McNeill says: “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.”