Edmonton Stinger’s former assistant coach, Kiera Lyons, is hailed the new head coach of NAIT Ooks women’s basketball team and aims to instill “the culture that wins” this season. She comes with a long list of experiences in basketball, all from playing, to coaching and broadcasting, and is excited to share with her team what she’s learned over years.
From restoring her former high school in Ryley, Alberta as one of the best 1A basketball teams in the province to helping coach the Edmonton Stingers, a Canadian professional basketball team, Lyons is in step with the game of basketball. Previously, she was also the strengthening and conditioning coach at NAIT, after being brought on by the women’s former basketball coach, Todd Warnick.
With the high of last season still permeating in the air, the new head coach joins at a notable time. Considering the women’s victory at national’s last season, Lyons hopes to cultivate wins but is fixated on rebuilding this year and creating a long-lasting culture.
“[I’m] a new coach trying to bring in a new type of culture and get things used to how things work under me in comparison to Todd, because like no matter who you bring in, it’s always going to be different,” Lyons said.
“[Wins are] my job, but at the same time I’ve also realized that wins are a symptom of a good culture . . . I have an idea of what I want practices to feel like when I’m speaking to my players, how I want them to feel and having them trust what I’m saying.”
Lyons realizes that in order to win, the team needs a certain culture but also grit and the sweat that comes with much effort. Still, as detected in her voice, it’s clear she loves a well-earned win.
“There’s championship DNA in those girls. The only way you get that is [by] winning. I’ve got five to six girls on that team that, that’s in their blood, and the only way you get that is by winning,” Lyons said.
“You know, being able to listen to what I’m saying and then they’ll learn, then they’ll pick up and attract other girls who want to do the same.”
Lyons’ pursuits in basketball stretch further than a love for the game. Since the early days of her career, which extends to her days in high school, she’s always been invested in advocating for women’s sports.
“Boys in my class got to have role models in the NHL and I didn’t get to have dreams like that. Or, I didn’t know that opportunity was there for me, so I wanted to get involved with expanding that for girls like myself,” she said.
Lyons will certainly stand out from the coach’s box this season. Reportedly, she will be the only female basketball coach in the ACAC, which is an unusual occurrence.
“There’s just been lots of movement, but right now I am the only female head coach. I really enjoy being an underdog, and I really enjoy taking on challenges like that. It’s kind of been the theme, where my career has led me, so it is intimidating for sure in like the best ways.”
“They’re winners, and I’m excited to be a part of that and work with such a well put together team. Like I said, I’m just very grateful for the opportunity,” said Lyons.