Cassidy Taal has been chosen by the Canadian College Athletic Association (CCAA) Female Coach Apprentice Program to become a coaching apprentice for the NAIT Ooks women’s basketball team for the 2017-18 season.
The goal of the program is to support graduating student-athletes who demonstrate the desire and skills to coach by giving colleges grants to help grow new coaches in the ACAC.
Taal started her career in basketball in Grade 6 and, after playing throughout high school, she continued her career, playing for the University of Lethbridge in the CIS. Taal later transferred to Mount Royal University but multiple injuries limited her to 17 regular-season games over her three seasons with the MRU Cougars.
Taal comes from a family with a rich history in coaching and basketball. Her grandfather coached the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns in the 1970s and, more recently, her mother was an assistant coach with the Longhorns for over 10 years after a five-year playing career with the team. Two of her aunts and an uncle also played basketball in college.
Taal ended her college playing career with a 20-game stint for the Ooks, becoming a leader for the team while coming off the bench and averaging 4.5 points in 18.9 minutes. Upon playing out her college eligibility Taal knew she wanted to stay involved in the game.
“I wouldn’t know what to do without it and I knew I wanted to give back to the sport that has given me so much,” she said.
This is not Taal’s first time coaching, however, as she has previously spent four years coaching a basketball club with her family. Many of her players have gone on to play college basketball.
Taal’s current role with the Ooks is an important one – to learn from head coach Todd Warnick and to provide emotional and physical support for the players.
“I usually show up about two hours early and make sure the players are warmed up and good to go,” she said. “I also do little jobs and really just help out where I can. Having been through this myself I can kind of tell what players need and what they don’t.”
Taal looks to translate her playing experience into a strong basketball coaching career. When asked about her plans for the future Taal reiterated her desire to give back to basketball.
“This sport has given me and my family so much and I love being able to give back. I don’t think that I’ll ever want to become a head coach, however. I’m enjoying my current role”.
Taal will definitely be worth keeping an eye on as she looks to add to her family’s legacy and help the Ooks on their path to an ACAC title.
– Jake Woods
– Image via NAIT Presto Sports