Claire Meadows is set to become the new head coach of the UBC Okanagan Heat women's basketball team.

Claire Meadows is set to become the new head coach of the UBC Okanagan Heat women's basketball team.

Meadows takes Heat helm

UBC Okanagan Heat name Claire Meadows as new head coach of women's basketball program.

The UBC Okanagan Heat have found a replacement for longtime women’s basketball head coach Heather Semeniuk.

Claire Meadows will become the school’s second coach since UBC Okanagan started Canada West competition in 2011. The retiring Semeniuk has held the position for the past 21 years.

“It has been a dream of mine to coach in the CIS since I played at this level in university,” said Meadows. “I am fortunate to be given a position to be able to influence and shape young women and future leaders in the community.”

Meadows played five years at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., earning first and second team OUA East All-Star awards, and finishing her career as captain and the Gaels’ second all-time leading scorer.

Following a one-year assistant coaching role at the University of Alberta, Meadows was hired by Basketball Alberta as head coach of the Alberta Centre for Performance in the South, and has spent the last three seasons as the lead assistant coach of the University of Lethbridge women’s team.

“As we have seen with previous postings for our coaching positions, there was very strong interest with qualified candidates applying from across Canada,” said Rob Johnson, director of athletics and recreation. “It is certainly a nice problem to have but one that makes the selection committee’s job very difficult. In the end however, Claire was our unanimous choice.

“Claire presented a comprehensive plan on how she will start from the foundation Heather has created and continue to build the strongest possible program at UBC Okanagan. Her playing and coaching experience, her commitment to her development as a professional coach – she recently completed a Master’s degree in coaching – and her work with provincial teams, along with her obvious passion for coaching made this the right choice.”

In addition to her coaching experience at the U of A and Lethbridge, Meadows was an assistant coach at Queen’s and a head coach for Alberta Basketball and the U17 Jr. Horns team in the Prairie Elite Basketball League (PEBL), experience that should serve her well with the growing Jr. Heat program in the Okanagan.

With the UBC Okanagan program still in its early stages in Canada West, Meadows is excited to have the opportunity to shape the program and build on what has been implemented by Semeniuk.

“Coach Semeniuk has created a strong foundation for the program in the CIS and I look forward to having the opportunity to build on that,” said Meadows. “Moving forward, I am excited to begin the recruiting process. Once the current CIS season has concluded and I am in Kelowna, I will begin working with the current student-athletes to plan and shape the vision of the program moving forward.”

Recruiting potential student-athletes that are the right fit both academically and athletically will be a priority, said Johnson, noting that to compete in Canada West it will be important to identify the top players locally, provincially and nationally.

“Once Heather made the decision to retire, recruiting for next season was the main reason we hired at this time,” he said. “We did not want to miss a recruiting class and potential student athletes need to know to whom they are committing. Claire’s connections in both western and eastern Canada, and with the provincial and national programs, will be a definite asset moving forward.”

Meadows will officially start April 1, but will start immediately identifying and connecting with recruits.

Vernon Morning Star