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‘Second mom’ basketball coach set to retire from Tigers

Anna Stammberger will leave a lasting impact on the women's team at Dalhousie

4 min read
caption Anna Stammberger has been coaching basketball at Dalhousie for 12 years.
Courtesy of Anna Stammberger

When Anna Stammberger steps down as head coach of Dalhousie University’s women’s basketball team, she’s leaving more than basketball behind.

“You are not coaching the game of basketball,” Stammberger told The Signal. “You are coaching young women, and that’s what really is most important.”

With the Tigers, Stammberger was named Atlantic University Sport 2015-16 Coach of the Year. She led the team to multiple playoff appearances, but most importantly, she was able to educate, empower, and care for her players.

Chloe Wilson, a second-year player with the Tigers, said Stammberger did small things that showed how much she cares, like bringing lunch to her players and taking her players to doctor’s appointments.

“She is basically a second mom for us,” said Wilson.

In 2019, Stammberger took her team on a trip to Germany.

Stammberger goes out of her way to help her players. The player-coach relationship is what’s most rewarding for her.

“That is the biggest reward,” said Stammberger. “It also changed my life because I feel like I learned just as much from them as they did from me.”

While Stammberger was demanding on the court, she was also fair. She said she never expected anything in return, but her players always found ways to show their appreciation.

Players volunteered their time for the Dalhousie Tigers Women in Leadership Spotlight Dinner, worked at the girls basketball camps in the summer, shared their knowledge with young players from the Halifax community and, of course, gave their all on the court.

caption Stammberger and her team at the 2018 Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame induction.
Nick Pearce

Stammberger always wanted to leave a positive impact on her players.

“This is really why I love coaching and educating; it’s to help people,” said Stammberger.

“Help them grow up, help them learn how to deal with adversity, help them face challenges … help them communicate better,” she said. “They learn a lot of these things on the court as well as off the court.”

In 2009, Stammberger and Rick Scott, coach of the women’s volleyball team at Dalhousie, debuted the leadership dinner. The event is hosted by two women’s teams and attracts up to 350 people. The dinner is held to give women a spotlight and an opportunity to network.

“We define and measure success well outside the lines of the basketball court,” said Tim Maloney, executive director, athletics and recreation at Dalhousie University. “We prepare our student athletes for what’s next in their lives and careers, and I think Anna has been absolutely dedicated to their academic success and their roles in the community.”

Life before coaching

Stammberger, a former Tigers’ basketball player, found her passion for the game at a young age. In high school, she was a multi-sport athlete. She ran track and field, cross-country, played volleyball and basketball. When she had to choose one sport for university, she stuck with basketball.

With the Tigers, she was a two-time All-Canadian selection, a three-time AUS all-star, a two-time AUS MVP, and U Sport silver in 1980 and bronze medallist in 1982.

She represented the Canadian national team at the 1984 Olympic Games. She also had the opportunity to play professionally in Germany. After concluding her playing career, Stammberger coached in Germany, in Kensington High School in P.E.I. and later, at Dalhousie.

End of an era

In 12 years as a Tigers’ head coach, Stammberger coached many student athletes. With the 2020-21 AUS sports season cancelled, she won’t be able to see her players compete. The team was able to practice until the gyms were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Stammberger is retiring at the end of this season for what she said are personal reasons. She hopes she inspired many student athletes to become powerful women in one way or another.

“Embrace hard work with a positive mindset and you will be surprised at what you can accomplish,” she said. “That’s how it worked for me and I’m an average person; if it can happen to me, then it can happen with anybody.

“Be the teammate you want to have; supportive, positive and focused.”

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    Barry Strongman

    Congratulations to a person I am honoured to call a friend. You are a true leader,Anna who always gave your best and made everyone around you a better person...Looking forward to seeing you more often......Congrats ...Barry and Barb
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