With Canadian basketball growing and evolving over the last couple of years, the country just got another win when it was announced that Coach Marlo Davis has been named the head coach of Canada’s U18 women’s national team at this year’s FIBA U18 Women’s AmeriCup Championship, which will take place in Bucaramanga, Colombia from June 17-23. 

How do you feel about being named the head coach of Canada’s U18 women’s national team? 

Honestly, I have not been able to take the time to truly process it, but I am just super excited for the opportunity and grateful to a lot of the players that I have been blessed to coach over the years. I think they’ve allowed me to grow as a coach and learn a lot through making a lot of mistakes, as well as some good and bad decisions, but whatever the case may be, they always showed up and competed for me, so I can’t thank them enough. 

Do you feel any pressure knowing that you will be representing an entire country?

Not that much, truthfully I think especially this past season at Crestwood (Prep), traveling to the US and playing some of the top schools, I do feel like we were representing Canada in those moments. I know it’s not the same, but I did feel that Canadian responsibility whenever we stepped into the event.

Can you give any insight on the coaching staff and what you’ve been able to put together so far?

My coaching staff is going to be Tamara Tatham, Christa Eniojukan and Michelle Abella from Carleton, so I’m surrounded by great basketball minds with a lot of experience. Tamara in particular is a 2x Olympian and has played for Team Canada for many years and has coached Team Canada. We actually coached together in 2021 in Hungary so our rapport is great. Christa has been nothing short of amazing, and Michelle Abella has been a winner, with the work that they have been doing at Carlton, so I am super excited about that. I have a lot of other coaches that are going to be coming to volunteer at our training camp to help make sure that we have the best camp possible and preparation for winning a gold medal. 

What has it been like coaching at Crestwood, especially as women’s basketball is finally getting the credit it deserves?

Coaching at Crestwood has been an amazing experience. I think the leadership outside of basketball has really trickled down. Our principal Dave Hecock is an Ohio State alumni so he’s a big sports guy and he understands the value of sports on a school community and things that it does there. My athletic director Lisa Newton, her son, actually just finished his rookie season in the OHL, so again, she is from a sports family and that trickle down effect has definitely helped me to improve in terms of organization, leadership, people management and different things like that. Dealing with the players, I think I have gotten better over the years in terms of creating a complete program and not just a basketball team. 

How did it feel to see Aaliyah Edwards, one of your former players get drafted sixth (Washington Mystics) in the WNBA draft?

I actually went. I was there, sitting in the crowd and it was a wide range of emotions. In one second, it felt like man, that was such a long time ago, but then in the same instance, it felt like it was yesterday that she was walking through these halls, but truthfully, the emotion was just proud. Happiness for her and her family and just joy. I think she did that for Canada, and the girls of the game, so whether it’s Canada basketball to AAU programs, to OSBA, she stepped across that stage representing all of us for the next girls to come that can see and know that this is something that is attainable.

You have had a great career, what do you think has been your biggest accomplishment so far? 

That’s tough. Winning-wise, I would say the OSBA championships (four), which has been huge because it just solidifies for us in Canada that we’re doing the right things the right way, and the kids from the program are seeing the success from the work that they put in. A highlight for me would be last year finishing third at the Nike Tournament of Champions because that event is regarded as the actual national high school championship in America just because it’s a bigger pool than the actual national championship, it’s the top 16 teams, and it’s invite only. 

You are ranked 1-16 and for us to finish third we had to beat three or four ESPN top-ranked teams and we were able to do that. Our third place game was on ESPN so our kids got to experience that and I thought that was really dope, so I would say that’s one of my highlights. We’ve been going to that tournament now for some years, even back with Aaliyah and Shayeann (Day-Wilson) and that group and we were not able to accomplish what we did this year. This year, we got to get on that podium and finish third, so now the next step is to definitely finish with a gold medal, but a step in the right direction so I’m happy about that. 

What do you do to make sure you are improving as a coach from year to year? 

I am fortunate enough that in the summers I coach in the CEBL the Niagara River Lions. Victor Raso is the head coach, so I get an opportunity to be an assistant coach and I get to coach different players from all over the world. I get to be an assistant so I learn what I would want from my assistants, how to be a good assistant, as well as how to be a better head coach and just as I mature, I think my management skills are continuing to improve. 

I go to the occasional coach’s clinic. I try to go to at least one or two throughout the summer, just to come back with something new in September. Canada basketball also does that as well, as I have had the honor of being an assistant for Carly Clarke, Steve Bower and Fabian McKenzie. All different coaches, but they all have different strengths and weaknesses so I have been able over the years to pull from all those experiences. 

Many coaches act as a motivator for their players on and off the court, how do you keep players motivated?

By looking at what’s next. Whatever their goals arem it’s just figuring out what the steps are for them to reach that goal, and what is next, so if your goal is to get a scholarship, then starting on our high school team may be a goal for you to get to that ultimate goal, so now that you’re starting – what next? Now that you are averaging whatever amount of points, what’s next? Now you are averaging points and rebounds, what’s next? You need to work on your leadership skills, etc. 

Just figuring out what it is that personally drives a player and figuring out what our motivation is as a team, and how we can marry the two. Kids that come to Crestwood understand that winning, from a team standpoint, lends itself to individual success, so if you want to go division one, I think being on a winning team will help that, you want to be ranked on ESPN, winning matters, you want to be on a national team, winning matters. For us, it comes back to the team and our motto and philosophy that if you are about the team, the team will be about you. 

Is there a coaching job or opportunity that you would love to be a part of in the future?

Ideally, I would love to one day coach in the NCAA, the NBA or the WNBA. I think I would just love to be in that environment and see where I stack up as a coach because I do want to be the best, so I think I need to be in the best leagues, around the best coaches in order for me to know if my goals are being met individually.

When it is all said and done, 10-20 years from now, I probably would love to come back and just coach high school sports because I do love helping and seeing some of these kids reach their goals. I was a Toronto kid with a hoop dream once upon a time, and great coaches volunteered and sacrificed their time to help me live my dream. I think that is the ultimate give back, so when it is all said and done, I would love to someday step back into this space if I was ever to move on. 

If you could coach any team, which one would you choose?

That’s a good one [laughs]. I think it would probably be the Los Angeles Lakers. Obviously the LA lifestyle and just the weather because I don’t like the cold, and I think the NBA is the greatest league in the world, so if I could coach the greatest players in the world, in one of the greatest cities in the world, I think that would be a great marriage right there. Wherever the opportunity comes though, the focus is to be present in that space and be great there. 

How do you think Canada will do at the FIBA U18 Women’s AmeriCup Championship?

I’m going with the mindset that we’re going to win a gold medal, and everything else is just a step along the way, so when we get to pool play, we’re going to do what we’re supposed to do with the mindset of what’s next? Then we are going to crossover and win the first round and then what’s next? Then hopefully when we see the USA they are going to have to look at us and figure out what’s next. 

Coach Marlo’s determination, confidence, and belief in his players and himself are just a few factors of what has enabled him to have such a successful career. Through his coaching, he continues to motivate and push the game forward highlighting all the great talent that Canadian basketball has to offer. Canada will be rooting for him, the entire coaching staff and players headed to the FIBA U18 Women’s AmeriCup Championship, and there is no doubt they’ll make the country proud.

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