When the University of Guelph’s varsity women’s basketball team made the trek to Notre Dame to play the Fighting Irish a week or so ago, it was Gryphon assistant coach Megan Reid’s second trip there in a month.
“It was an unbelievable learning opportunity for me to go down there,” Reid said of her first trip to Nore Dame a couple of weeks before the game.
Reid is the Gryphons’ first full-time assistant and she’s also the team’s head-coach-in-training.
“It was part of my mentorship,” Reid said of her first trip to Notre Dame. “My position here is to learn so I can be the next head coach, earn it, but I need to be exposed to the greatness. I need to see how different programs run. I need to see if there are things there that we can implement here. Now, different scale, different budget and all that type of thing, but I was there to learn. I wasn’t there scouting.”
Her trip to Notre Dame gave Reid the chance to see how hall of fame coach Muffet McGaw and her all-female coaching staff work together and the other things they do.
“Going down there it was trying to spend time with the coaching staff, trying to watch the coaching staff,” Reid said. “What do they do with their players? What do their pre-game shoots look like?
“I got to see their facilities. I got to see the infrastructure that they have – their nutrionists and how they take care of their athletes and their strength and conditioning. It was super impressive, but it was also affirming. There are lots of things we do here that are very much the same as they do and it made me walk away feeling that we’re doing some really good things. Our process is on the right path. There are a lot of things we need to keep up and there are a few tweaks that we’ll look at implementing if we can do that.”
While Guelph resident Reid is in her first season as a fulltime assistant with the Gryphons, it’s her third as an assistant with the team.
“I’ve been coaching for a while,” she said. “It’s been 10 years that I’ve been doing post-secondary – this is my 11th year – and I’ve built programs before at Mohawk and here.”
Reid grew up in London and played basketball at two different high schools there. She also played university basketball in Ontario, two seasons at York and two seasons at Western when the Mustangs qualified for the national championship tournament both times. They were fourth the first season and bronze-medal winners the second.
“I’ve coached and I’ve taught for 21 years and I’ve taught and coached athletes from elementary school all the way to post-secondary,” Reid said. “I was at Mohawk for eight years and we started with a program that was 2-16 or something like that. It was not a great record and we built our way up in three years to be OCAA silver medalists. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we were OCAA silver medalists for four years in a row and, yes, I’ve heard ‘the Buffalo Bills of the OCAA’ and those types of things.”
The Bills reached the Super Bowl four consecutive years from 1991 to 1994 and lost each time.
While Reid accepted the full-time assistant position with the Gryphons, she turned down a head coach position in the OUA women’s league.
“The head coaching opportunity that I was offered would’ve been a great opportunity to learn, but it would’ve been trial by fire and it would’ve been jumping into something that, yes I can do – I can do anything – but you’re learning on the job,” she said. “You’re learning as you go. You’re 60-hour-plus weeks and I have a 4-year-old and family was a big reason. It would’ve been incredibly disruptive for him and for my husband (Bill Price), who’s a coach and to give him a chance to finish coaching his high school career the way that he wants to. So that’s all part of it.”
Price is the head coach of the Ross Royals high school senior boys’ team.
“There are so many supports here. We have a student support network. We have the SAM mentoring program,” Reid said. “We have, as I’ve been exposed to this year, meetings with our strength and conditioning coach every week. He talks to physio, to our athletic therapy. So it’s all together, all working together and all on the same page. There’s a ton of communication and you don’t see that in other places. And I didn’t necessarily see the ‘We’re trying to build winning programs.’”
Success on the court is important to Reid and she wants her players to be serious about the sport, but she also wants more than that for her players.
“I want character and I want my kids to be able to grow up and look to bigger things,” she said. “I know that basketball’s awesome, but I want them to have more outside their life. I’m also not built to just have happy players all the time, everybody just playing basketball for fun. I’m built to help build programs, to find that edge, to find that challenge, to find that ability to rise up and be the best you can be. I really felt that Guelph has those supports and is on that right track and they’re building programs.”
However, there is no solid date for Reid to take the top spot on the Gryphon coaching staff. That will be up to current head coach Mark Walton, a member of the Gryphon hall-of-fame for his playing exploits with the men’s team who is in his fourth season with the squad.
“There’s no timetable. We’re not checking any watches. We want Coach to coach as long as he can and he’s healthy and it’s good for him and it’s positive for everybody. I’m learning every day,” Reid said.
“He’s very good about giving me opportunities. We have meetings and we co-create the practice plans. We talk about games before and after. I have a good solid role here. I don’t feel that I’m limited.
“I’m ready. I’m ready to step up and I’m ready to take over the reins, but while I have an opportunity to learn, I’m going to do that. I’m going to take advantage of that.”