USask women’s basketball coach looks forward to an exciting season with the Huskies and Team Germany.
Lisa Thomaidis has been coaching the Huskies women’s basketball team for 25 seasons. She has also had the opportunity to coach at the international level, working with the national teams for Canada and now Germany.
Thomaidis shared that she has enjoyed working with the Huskies and building up the team’s success over the years, and attributes much of that success to the work ethic that is a foundational value of the team.
“I absolutely love working with the student athletes that we have here,” Thomaidis said. “They’re the cream of the crop.”
Thomaidis looks forward to building on the success the Huskies have had over the last few years in the upcoming season. She feels that the team’s upset at the Can-West Semi-Final last year has provided a lot of motivation. In addition to this, Thomaidis said that they have a great team, with many of their players from last year returning.
She also mentioned that she’s enjoyed watching athletes go on to play at professional levels and represent their country.
Thomaidis spent 11 years as an assistant coach and 8 years as the head coach of the Canadian women’s national team. During that time she got to attend three Olympic Games and a number of world championships. She said that she was young when she began working with the team, and was grateful for the opportunity to learn from players and coaches that had more experience than her.
“It made me a better coach, and gave me insight into how to build a better team,” Thomaidis said. “I think my involvement with the national team and our [the Huskies’] success were directly correlated.”
This year, Thomaidis has returned to the international court as the head coach of Team Germany. She explained that she had thought her international career was done, and was surprised by the invitation to coach the German team in the summer of 2023.
“It’s crazy… when you don’t even look for an opportunity and it kind of lands in your lap, and not knowing what you’re getting into, and then having it be such a positive experience. It really was an incredible five weeks with that group.”
Initially, Thomaidis’ commitment to Team Germany was short-term: five weeks to help the team during EuroBasket, the European Championships that the German team had not qualified for in 12 years. She said that she knew very little about the team going in, but felt very welcomed by them upon her arrival and found they were a tight-knit team with a lot of passion.
Thomaidis and the German team went into EuroBasket with low expectations, but a desire to prove that they belonged there. The team found unprecedented success at the tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals — Germany’s first time in 26 years.
Their success also qualified them for the Olympic Qualification Tournament; Thomaidis will be returning to Germany in February, when the team will try to earn a spot in the Paris Olympics in 2024. Thomaidis has now committed to coaching the team until 2026, when Germany is set to host the World Cup.
“They were just so open to coaching and doing anything they could to see some success, and so to help them achieve that was super rewarding,” Thomaidis shared.
She also looks forward to the chance to raise the profile of basketball, especially women’s basketball, in Germany. “I think anytime young German women and men can watch [their] national team play at home [is] just so inspiring… I think it will be really impactful for the team and for the sport.”
Thomaidis reflects on her coaching experience and the opportunities for development and growth these teams have given her, especially her experience at the international level. She shared that learning from the best, and then being able to take that knowledge and apply it to the Huskies, has been “a lot of fun.”
“As a coach, a lot of the time you operate in a kind of vacuum. You don’t get to see other teams practice or see other coaches in their environment. Coaching internationally has enabled me to do that,” Thomaidis said. “I think that’s been just so good for our program, and for me personally.”
Thomaidis encourages current students, especially those who might like to pursue coaching one day, to get out and take advantage of the opportunities they have and find mentors.
“I think a lot of the time you can learn from a coach that maybe you aren’t as much alike, as you will learn from someone who maybe aligns more with some of your values. Lots of exposure to different opportunities, different styles, and different ways of playing the game, I think, is really critical.”
Thomaidis will be applying her knowledge and shooting for success over the coming months with both the Huskies and Team Germany.
“I really enjoy helping players and people achieve things that maybe they never thought were possible.”