As she prepares for the national team season, Lisa Thomaidis is quickly becoming comfortable with her new position as head coach of the Canadian Senior Women’s program.
It’s fair to say Thomaidis knows the game inside and out having worked within the Canada Basketball system for over a decade, and involved in the sport her entire life as a player and a coach.
Viewing the game with perspective comes naturally for the Dundas, Ont., native who played five seasons with McMaster University where she was an OUA All-Star before pursuing a professional career in Greece.
“Knowing the international game from a players’ perspective, not just as a coach it helps my coaching style and just dealing with the athletes,” said Thomaidis. “Having played in Europe and knowing kind of what the pro leagues are like over there and what you have to go through and the sacrifices you have to make to play over there and be successful is something I can relate to.”
The former pro doesn’t give herself much credit as a player, and won’t readily accept the title of ‘player’s coach,’ either.
“I could be a players coach, maybe moreso a few years back when I was closer to their age, but I think it helps just going through those experiences similar to those our current athletes are going through.”
While at McMaster, Thomaidis also coached with Ontario Basketball programs and says coaching interested her from a young age. Then while playing professionally in Greece she got a lucky break that turned into a blessing in disguise.
“When I was playing pro I ended up getting injured so I got a chance to sit and watch a lot of practices,” remembers Thomaidis. “It was probably during that time that I kind of realized I could be a better coach than I was a player while watching the game from another perspective and learning by understanding it in a different way.”
While observing the game from a coach's vantage point, Thomaidis began to notice subtleties of the game and appreciate the edge smarter players had, even if they weren’t stronger or faster. Then at some point, it clicked – the player had become a coach.
Of course, it helped that she had a few strong mentors along the way. Thomaidis thanks her high school coaches for believing she could play at the University level, and her McMaster coach Theresa Burns for teaching the game from a point guard’s perspective.
Thomaidis credits “very accomplished coaches who I’ve been very lucky to compete against and share ideas with and bounce ideas off of,” especially the former head coach of the Senior Women’s team, Allison McNeil, who she says, “has had a huge impact on me coaching with her for the last 11 years. I’ve been really lucky.”
With the background Thomaidis brings to the team, it’s as if she has a master's degree in Canadian basketball at the international level. She’s sure that her years of experience with the team will benefit the program and prove to be a valuable coaching resource.
“The international game is just so different than NCAA or CIS so having 11 years of experience at that level has served me really, really well in that there’s probably not much that’s going to surprise me any more,” said Thomaidis.
“We’ve played in a lot of different conditions, we’ve played in a lot of different countries, lots of funny stories, lots of traveling stories to reflect upon, but I think it’s provided me with the background and the knowledge base to be able to take on this position whole-heartedly and to be able to move it forward.”