University of Toronto women’s basketball coach retiring after 41 seasons

TORONTO — One of the longest-serving coaches in Canadian university sports is stepping down.

Michele Belanger, the University of Toronto women’s basketball head coach, will retire on July 1, the school announced Tuesday.

Belanger began her run with the Varsity Blues in 1979.

Born in Montreal and raised in Timmins, Ont., she was 854-504 over 41 seasons with U of T.

Belanger guided the Varsity Blues to their lone national title in 1986 and helped coach Team Canada to a silver medal at the 2015 world university games in Korea.

Belanger was the Ontario University Athletics coach of the year eight times and led the Blues to nine provincial titles.

She coached 38 players to OUA all-star honours and nine players to U Sports all-Canadian status, while making 17 appearances at the national championship tournament.

“It’s hard to think of OUA women’s basketball and not think of Michele as the Varsity Blues head coach,” Ira Jacobs, dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education at the school, said in a statement.

“She has been a leader, a teacher, a tactician and a role model for so many student-athletes and coaches alike, not only at U of T but across the country.”

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