By: Kirk Jessome
As tip-off of the 2018-19 AUS women’s basketball season approaches, there is another milestone being celebrated; head coach, Anna Stammberger is entering her tenth season at the helm of the Tigers bench.
Stammberger has been a member of the Tigers family for more than just the last 10 years playing five seasons in the Tigers uniform with many incredible achievements to go with them. Stammberger was an AUS MVP and a U SPORTS all-Canadian twice in her career with the Tigers. A staple on Canada’s national basketball team for 12 years, she competed at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
She enjoyed a professional career in Germany’s First Division league from 1985-2003, serving as a player-coach for her last eight years with BG Rentrop.
She made her return to the Dalhousie campus at the start of the 2009-10 season after a brief stint as the athletic director, coach and a teacher at Kensington High School on PEI. Now in her tenth season as the head coach of the Tigers, Stammberger reflects back on her path here.
Do you have any reflections on what these 10 years mean to you?
I really like to live in the moment, so I didn’t spend too much time thinking about the future, and the seasons are so busy that the time really flies by. But looking back, Dalhousie has been such a huge part of my development both as a coach and as a player, and it continues to do that today. I’m very grateful for the time I’ve have had here in both aspects.
What differences have you seen after coaching in Germany?
A major difference was the age of the athletes I was working with. The athletes ranged from kids still in high school, all the way up to 35 years old. The age was an adjustment in terms of maturity level, and athletic development.
The team I was working with wasn’t a fully professional team, so most of those players also had full-time jobs similar to the lifestyle of a student-athlete. I actually had two practicing lawyers on my team who worked all day, and then came to evening practices. Your age didn’t matter. If you were good enough to play, you played.
In what ways has your coaching style changed in your time here?
You always want to try to evolve and improve, but you always try to coach true to yourself, so your style doesn’t change too radically. I always loved practice as a player, and I still love practicing as a coach. Even going to 6:30am practices, it still gets me excited to come to practice and work with these kids.
I feel like I’m a bit more supportive in helping my student-athletes grow as a complete individual, not just as an athlete. I’ve always cared about all of my athletes, but I think I do a better job of expressing that support and helping them to be successful off of the court as well as in games.
Are there special moments that standout to you during your time here?
Every time you say goodbye to your seniors is extremely special to me, sending them off after having them for so many years is very emotional. On the other side, every time a recruit decides to come to your school is special as well. It’s very exciting every time I get the phone call that fantastic student-athletes are choosing my school and my program at such an important time in their life.
Also last year, our team had the highest average GPA that it’s had since I started coaching here. That’s also a very special moment for me, to see that my group takes their schooling as seriously as they do their training.
That also includes two of your own children going through the same program you did, correct?
Yes, we’re Dal people! Even when we were living on PEI when we first moved back from Germany, we would go to UPEI to see Dalhousie play. The kids remind me all the time that I told them even though we are PEI people, we’re Dalhousie people at heart. They never really had a chance of going anywhere else.
It’s also special to me that I have my brother Noel on the bench with me, the whole family holds Dal very close to their hearts.
What are your personal coaching goals for the upcoming season?
My goals as a coach are always to bring the team to as close to their maximum potential as possible. The team strives for constant improvement throughout the year.
A championship season isn’t something you talk about, it’s something you are constantly working towards each practice and each game.
The Tigers have a few more pre-season tune-ups, including the annual Lawtons Centennial Tournament October 12-14 before the season kicks off next month with a doubleheader against Cape Breton.