Mandy Botham knows winning from a players point of view and hopes that can translate to the sidelines.
The newly minted head coach for the RDC Queens basketball program was part of an undefeated season and won an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Championship as a player in 1994-95 but knows coaching is an entirely different beast.
“I really like to push athletes to be as good as I see them capable of being,” said Botham.
“I can also relate to them, having played in the league myself. I know what they’re going through, so I think that brings a certain level of credibility. I’ve been an athlete on a successful team. They have some great athletes we can build on going forward into next season.”
Botham got her feet wet in the coaching ranks in her hometown of Prince George, working as an assistant for the University of British Columbia Timberwolves.
The last two seasons, she guided her alma mater, the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves Women’s basketball team as a head coach. The young group she had in Grande Prairie took a lot of lumps, picking up just three wins in 48 games in the ACAC North.
Still, Botham believes that experience was valuable in learning what it takes to coach and recruit at the college level.
“It was a great opportunity. It was the first time that I coached at the post-secondary level. There were definitely some challenges. I really got to learn the way the ACAC works– the policies and the procedures. I got to meet some really great people and start to learn the ins and outs of recruiting,” she said.
“Just trying to be competitive with such a young team that I had in Grande Prairie, in a league full of third, fourth and fifth-year athletes.”
Part of what drew the 43-year-old to RDC, beyond the opportunity to be a first-time head coach, was the brand new Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. Along with the top-notch facility making recruiting easy, she said the staff and the history of winning played a big role in her decision.
“Once I got to Red Deer and got to go inside (the new facility) that really blew me away,” she said.
“Another part was the colleagues that’d I’d be working with, Diane St. Denis and the other coaches that have had such a history of success. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to learn and get better as a coach.”
The new bench boss will be tasked with turning around a Queens squad that finished last in the ACAC South with a 3-18 record last year. In 2017-18, the Queens made the ACAC playoffs and had a 12-9 record.
As a coach, Botham is still forming her identity behind the bench. She likes hard-nosed, gritty players that will hit the floor and compete. Other than that, she will try and adjust to whatever players she is able to bring in for next season and see how they fit together with the returning group.
“A lot of it is based on the athletes I have. We’ll try and build our systems based on the strengths we have that year. Eliminating any weaknesses. There’s a lot of common threads that I’ve seen through the teams I’ve coached,” she said.
“Strong attention to detail. Working hard, having good execution and having a good understanding. I tend to like gritty athletes, that are willing to hit the floor for a loose ball or take a charge.”
Botham added job one when she starts on May 16 is meet with players from last year and see who is planning to return. From there, the recruiting battle begins as she looks to fill out the roster for what should be an interesting 2019-20 season.