To celebrate the centennial season of Canadian university women’s basketball, U SPORTS is unveiling the Top 100 players of the century, as selected by it Coaches' Association. Each week until the Final 8 in Ottawa, players will be revealed by decade and special features highlighting the incredible careers of select players posted to USPORTS.ca. The campaign culminates with the announcement of the 2020 Nan Copp U SPORTS Player of the Year at the All-Canadian Gala on Mar. 4.
- Olympian, 1976
- Coach of Brock University women’s basketball for 27 years
- Varsity athlete: Laurentian University, Old Dominion
At the tender age of 17, Chris Critelli was named to Canada’s national women’s basketball team. Just over a year later, in 1976, Critelli found herself competing at the Montreal Olympics when women’s basketball made its inaugural debut. It’s that moment that she credits with “catapulting” her career, one that spanned 35-years as both a coach and administrator at Brock University.
“The best way to go from player to coach is to jump at every opportunity,” she says, and that’s exactly what she did.
“I loved the game and worked hard at it, stayed in it, and then when I finished my playing days it just seemed a good fit to get into coaching.”
Although coaching opportunities in the U.S. offered more money at the time, she says it wasn’t a factor in her decision to stay in Canada.
“It really was about the passion for the game and the experience in Canadian sport, and having an influence in Canadian sport.”
In the 25 seasons she coached the Brock Badgers, she guided the team to 22 playoff appearances and one conference championship. There’s no doubt that her influence and legacy will continue long after her retirement. In 2016, Ontario University Athletics named the women’s basketball championship trophy the Critelli Cup, in her honour.
After retiring as the assistant athletic director at Brock, she’s turned her attention and efforts towards competitive golf and writing a book based on the lessons she learned from the many coaches she had during her time competing for Laurentian, Old Dominion in the NCAA, and the national team.
“We're a direct influence of the people around us and mine happened to be coaches,” she says. “It's the lessons I learned and hopefully that I can pass on to other coaches, players and parents.”
“We're a direct influence of the people around us, and mine happened to be coaches.”
– Chris Critelli
Megan is a Master of Journalism graduate of Carleton University. For the past eight years, she has covered university sports at the provincial, national and international level. Her sports reporting has earned her the 660 News Diversity Scholarship from the Radio, Television and Digital News Foundation. Notably, she was one of 12 sports journalists chosen for the FISU Young Reporters Program in 2015 to cover the 28th Summer Universiade in Gwangju, South Korea.
Follow Megan on Twitter: @megom8