By Nashra Syed
New Rams women’s basketball lead assistant coach Shae Dheensaw’s resume includes experience representing Canada at the national level, a career playing college basketball in the U.S. and being named interim head coach at the University of Victoria at just 26 years old in 2020.
What would be a lifetime of experience in the sport for some is another asset for the No. 6 ranked Rams women’s basketball team in its quest for a national championship. Now after stops at the University of Washington, Washington State University and the University of Victoria, Dheensaw hopes to make Ryerson home for the foreseeable future.
Dheensaw added that she wants to help make an impact in the Ryerson community, but that sometimes, you need to let the reverse happen as well.
“I’ve learned that allowing them to make an impact on you is as big as when you make an impact on them,” she said.
During her time with the Washington State University Cougars women’s basketball team and coaching for the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team, Dheensaw said she received a lot of advice but ignored most of it because she was so young.
“I’ve learned that allowing them to make an impact on you is as big as when you make an impact on them”
The one piece of advice that stuck with her, however, was from the TV show Ted Lasso, “Be curious, not judgemental.”
After pursuing her bachelor’s degree in human development at Washington State University and master of arts degree in intercollegiate athletic leadership at the University of Washington, Dheensaw was able to coach her younger sister Marissa, who was a basketball player with the UVic Vikes.
As an older sibling, she said she often forgot that her sister isn’t so little anymore. “To watch a group of athletes lean on her and her not being the baby sister, she [has] the force of a leader,” she added.
Dheensaw was named the lead assistant coach of the Vikes in September 2018, making her way up to interim head coach by the 2020-21 academic year.
For her, the experience of being an athlete and a coach are very different. She said that now, she digests the game differently and really has to think about every play, but as an athlete, she found it more fun when there was a coach who would take care of the intricacies of the game.
Another difference between being a student-athlete and a coach is the aspect of control, she added.
Dheensaw said that despite pre-game nerves, once she was on the court and had the ball, all the angst just went away. All that was in her head in those moments was to win and being an athlete, she was able to be on the court and feel the full effect of her hard work.
“When you see the day-to-day of what these women and these female athletes do, what all these athletes do in terms of juggling athletics and academics, it’s quite incredible”
Now part of Ryerson’s coaching staff, Dheensaw acknowledged the work that all the athletes put in from an outsider’s perspective.
“When you see the day-to-day of what these women and these female athletes do, what all these athletes do in terms of juggling athletics and academics, it’s quite incredible. Little do they all know, they’re creating these very unique skills that not everyone gets to develop.”
Being a student-athlete is a difficult yet rewarding role, but following the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) decision to suspend operations in mid-December, Rams athletes were forced to stop playing their respective sports.
Dheensaw said she believes that all athletes, regardless of their sport, deserve to play and be broadcasted on national television.
On Jan. 21, the OUA announced that all university athletic games will be continued in-person starting Feb. 9.
“One crappy situation is turning into like 1,000 great conversations, and I think that’s all we can do right now,” she added.