One of the finest women’s basketball players in UFV history is moving into the coaching ranks, and she’s getting a financial boost as she does it.
Chilliwack’s Kayli Sartori is one of 18 former student athletes nationwide receiving a U-Sports female basketball apprentice coaching grant. The program was launched in the 2019-20 season, aiming to increase the number of females in coaching positions at Canadian universities.
Sartori, who starred with UFV for four seasons (2014-16, 2018), is coming back to the Cascades as an assistant under head coach Al Tuchscherer.
“I have been involved with UFV basketball since I was 14 with the Junior Cascades, and it feels like the next step in my journey to continue as a coach and give back to the program that gave me so much,” Sartori said.
The 27-year-old dipped her toes into the coaching pool two years ago when Kyle Graves brought her into the Chilliwack Basketball Club fold.
“I found that I loved being with the girls, learning from them and them learning from me,” Sartori said.
Sartori joined the Cascades’ coaching staff this season, helping out in COVID-19-modified practice settings. As a player, she was a fiery uber-competitor, and there’s a part of her that wants to blow the whistle every five seconds to correct something she sees.
“My biggest challenge as I move into coaching is forcing myself to step back and allow the girls to play and learn as they go,” she said. “You’ve got to let the girls play through some things.”
Sartori considered herself to be ‘nitty gritty,’ on the court and she hopes she can instill some of that persona in the Cascades she’ll coach.
“Being sore or getting hit a bit hard, that kind of filled up my gas tank when I played,” she said. “You’re only going to outplay your opponents when you can overcome adversity, when you can deal with being sore and injured. Being fresh off the court as a player, the girls can look at me and say, ‘She did that.’”
During her playing days at UFV, her team won a pair of Canada West medals (bronze in 2013, silver in 2014) and earned the program’s first national medal, a bronze, in 2014. Sartori was a two-time Canada West all-star (first team in 2016, second team in 2017), won the CW scoring title (2015-16), and earned U SPORTS second team All-Canadian honours (2016). She went on to play professionally in Lebanon, Cyprus and France.
“I’m really excited for Kayli,” Tuchscherer said. “It didn’t take long to see her passion and competitiveness show as a coach. As she did as an athlete, she has quickly adapted and has been a quick study.
“I think she is the perfect candidate for this U-Sports program as she is keen to grow as a coach, and I could see her being part of the basketball scene for many years to come.”