When fans inside Whalen Gymnasium look down at the Fort Lewis College women’s basketball sideline this season, two familiar faces will lead the team huddle.
Two weeks after 2003 Durango High School alum Orlando Griego was named the interim head coach, 2013 Dolores High School graduate Cydney McHenry was named assistant coach of the Skyhawks. McHenry officially began in her new role Thursday.
“The more time I spent with (Griego), the more I see our personalities are alike,” McHenry said. “It’s going to be exciting to coach with him. With him being very local and me being from Dolores, the fans will get to see the intensity we bring that we used to have as athletes on the court and now get to use on the sideline. They will see our enthusiasm while we push our athletes.
“In Dolores, the league I was part of included Ignacio and Mancos and those surrounding communities. I definitely feel like it gives kids at those schools a chance to see there are options to progress in athletics when you really put your mind to it.”
McHenry was a three-sport star at Dolores High School, as she competed in volleyball, basketball and track and field. It was basketball that took her to the collegiate level, as she played at Adams State University. She graduated in 2017 and averaged nearly 10 points per game her senior season. She also grabbed nearly four rebounds and dished out 2.7 assists per game while she played an average of 33 minutes per contest.
McHenry then served as a graduate assistant for the Adams State men’s basketball team and spent last season as the assistant coach for the Adams State women’s team under head coach Jaime Green.
“I feel like playing in the RMAC helped me a lot as a coach,” McHenry said. “A lot of the coaches don’t change that often, so I had that knowledge going in about what kind of offenses and defenses teams used and what kind of athletes each school tends to get.”
Griego was happy to add a coach with that RMAC experience to his staff.
“I’m extremely excited to have her come aboard. She is going to be a big asset to the team, program and school,” Griego said. “She brings a lot of energy, which I love. She communicates well and has experience on the men’s and women’s side. She understands player development and understands RMAC competition and recruiting. We are going to work really well together.”
Previous FLC head coach Jason Flores, now an assistant athletic director at FLC, first reached out to McHenry. He knew she would be the right fit on the Skyhawks bench, especially with Griego.
“She loves Durango, and she wants to be here,” Flores said. “She was a great player, and her dad was a longtime coach. She’s going to do great.”
McHenry is the daughter of John and Joye McHenry. John coached her basketball teams at Dolores High before he took a job at Montezuma-Cortez High School, where he coached until 2018. Though McHenry wasn’t always sure she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps as a coach, it became clear during her college playing career that she still wanted to be involved in basketball.
“I always knew I loved being in the athletic world. Going through college basketball, I said, “Gosh, I can’t imagine doing anything else,’” she said. “Being in the gym all the time, I knew I didn’t want to work at a desk. Having my dad there all the time helped me understand the game a lot more and got my toes wet in what it’s like to be a coach.
“I want to be a basketball coach. I’ve enjoyed every experience I’ve been part of and the relationships I’ve been able to cultivate. To be a head coach some day and put together a team of characters I like is my long-term goal. (Griego) and I have the same taste in types of kids we want here at Fort Lewis, so I’m excited to get this going.”
The FLC athletics administration is confident in the direction of the women’s basketball program under Griego and McHenry, and the coaches can’t wait to once again lead a team in front of their hometown fans.
“The intent was to hire a real strong assistant coach,” FLC athletic director Brandon Leimbach said. “We have high aspirations for that program. They won’t miss a beat, and I think we move forward at a strong level.”