The name Michele Hynes may sound familiar to current and former Bison student athletes. The 26-year-old Millgrove, Ont. native was named head coach of the Bison women’s basketball team in April, after two seasons as an assistant and interim head coach. While her coaching career with Manitoba has just begun, she already has quite the storied history with the university. Hynes played a full five years with the Bisons, completing her university basketball career in 2010. During her time with the team, she racked up an impressive resume. Hynes was a CIS Academic All-Canadian as a freshman in 2006-07, as well as team captain for three consecutive seasons, beginning in 2007-08. One of her biggest accomplishments as a Bison occurred following the 2009-10 season, when she received the CIS Sylvia Sweeney Award – presented to a player who demonstrates outstanding achievement in basketball, academics, and community involvement . Hynes’ passion for the game and commitment to the university should make for an exciting tenure, and while the opportunity to coach anywhere at the CIS level is tremendous, it means a bit more getting to stay with Manitoba. “The university and the program mean a lot to me. They helped me a lot with my own personal involvement,” said Hynes. “Getting the chance to contribute to future success down the road, I feel it’s pretty special.” Hynes also touched on her comfort level during the interview process, which may have been aided by her familiarity with the university. “I surprised myself with how comfortable I was with [the interview],” Hynes said. “I think it was just because of how passionate I am about the university, and how well I know it.” “I’ve been here for a while, and in many roles, so it made it an at-ease process [ . . . ] when it comes down to knowing the university, I’m confident in that.” Due to the fact that she is still fairly fresh from her own basketball experience, Hynes can relate to the position that her players will be in. While the small gap in age may seem like it could be a factor, Hynes stressed the importance of context with each team member going forward. “Just like any coach, you kind of get to the point where it’s not really about age,” Hynes said. “It’s more about making sure you really understand where the athletes are coming from, given their background or their level of previous commitment, experience, or exposure to sport.” Hynes also took the time to consult with various individuals with CIS coaching experience, in order to aid her own knowledge going forward. “I reached out to a lot of people, either in the CIS, or Canada West coaches [ . . . ] it was kind of a mix of everything, just to get a general idea of where everyone else was coming from.” When asked about her goals and direction for the upcoming season, Hynes was quick to bring everything back to the program’s development, and the fact that it is not a one-step process. “Just from the program as a whole, I think the last two months have been digging into different areas of the program to really make sure that there’s a good base of people around it, and a good philosophy and understanding of what I want,” Hynes said. Utilizing the “Rome wasn’t built in a day” philosophy, she also touched on the importance of the process of progress.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in meetings in the last month, but it’s been good. I think it also does keep in check that it’s a long-term process to build a CIS program; it’s not going to be a one-year fix.”