Meet Shanele Stires: New Cal Poly Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Difficult. Robust. Physical. Those are the words Shanele Stires, Cal Poly’s newly hired women’s basketball head coach, used to describe her style of play as a standout athlete at Kansas State.

“The teams I coach usually play that way,” Stires said after being named head coach on April 14, following Faith Mimnaugh’s retirement after 25 years at the helm of the program.

Stires enters the program at a time when he is looking for a turnaround. In 2021, the team went 3-22 and finished last in the Big West.

Stires, a self-described coach, plans to bring that mentality to help the Mustangs turn the tide in years to come.

“TO [Cal State East Bay], we were eighth in the nation in rebounds and our starting cross was 5-6,” Stires said of his last coaching stoppage. “We’re going to be scrappy, we’re going to be tough and we’re going to come after this. It all depends on the size of your heart and how you want it. I am living proof.

Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Stires enjoyed a successful career in college and professional basketball. She was an all-time player at Kansas State, where she scored 1,344 points and grabbed 701 rebounds during her career, as well as first-team All-Big Eight honors and runner-up as a conference player. of the year.

Throughout Stires’ coaching tenure at Cal State East Bay, 11 student-athletes earned all-conference honors and one player, Shomari Harris, was named the California Collegiate Athletics Association’s Player of the Year in 2017.

For a mid-major program like Cal Poly, player development is crucial, and Stires has shown she has the skills to help with that. His unique basketball background will help him build camaraderie within the program, according to Stires.

“I’ve had a really interesting career that’s had a lot of different twists and turns,” Stires said. “I was the best player on my team; I was the worst player on my team. I think I was the worst coach in the room on a coaching staff; I was the best assistant coach in the hall among the coaching staff. There’s probably not a situation you go through as a student athlete that I haven’t been in.

Throughout Stires’ resume, there is a history of success with the programs she has attended. His Cal State East Bay team has compiled a 94-53 record over the past six seasons. Prior to East Bay, she helped the University of San Francisco (USF) win the West Coast Conference and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 19 years. At USF, she served as associate head coach, defensive coordinator and scouting coordinator.

“Most programs don’t have a pathway to create a really high level of performance because their players work together in synergy,” Stires said. “We are going to surpass ourselves. So even if the talent isn’t exactly where we want it to be, we’re going to outdo ourselves because we’re going to play better together than the other teams.

To have this synergy, according to Stires, the team must execute a pattern suited to the natural strengths and intuitions of the players. Stires says she hasn’t established how they want to play on the attacking end, but it’s clear that will be based on her assessment of the team’s skills.

“It won’t be about what I want to do,” Stires said. “It will be about the skills of our players and then trying to put each player in situations that allow them to be as successful as possible within a framework that organizes us all to be on the same page. ”

On the defensive side, Stires said the team would apply ball pressure while containing drives to keep their defense from spinning.

“We want to do a really good job of playing with the integrity of the spreads,” Stires said. “We want to jump to the ball and flood the lane. We want to make sure we can test and contain shooters and pilots.

Along with having a proper schema, the other element of team improvement comes mentally. Changing their expectations and mindset heading into next year will be crucial for the Mustangs, according to Stires.

“I think when you come out of the kind of season our players have just come out of, you have to remind them that they’re probably capable of more than they realize,” Stires said.

The Mustangs have key team members returning, including seniors Maddie Vick and Maddie Willett, who will remain at Cal Poly for their graduate studies. Vick and Willett were the top two in terms of minutes played last season.

With the pair returning with gradual improvement from others, the team will be looking to step up next season.

“If we got into a situation where the cultivation wasn’t as laborious as this, it would be that much more difficult,” Stires said. “But I feel like there’s such a good group of young women that we’re going to be able to galvanize them and get them to pull in the same direction.”

Throughout Coach Stires’ career as a coach and player, her grit and determination were evident wherever she went, and she brought the same approach to Cal Poly’s women’s basketball program for years to come.

“They are fighters,” Stires said of his new team. “I think they want to win and I think it’s my job to show them how it’s going to be.”

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