In the late 1960s, Dave MacNeill came from Saint John, NB, to Charlottetown to play basketball for St. Dunstan’s.
However, “Hermie,” as he is known to the older crowd, did not receive his greatest accolades as a player. He would make his impressive mark 15 years later as the coach of the UPEI Women’s Basketball team. In 1978–79, his first year of coaching, he was named AUS Coach of the Year. The following year, he coached the women to a 14–2 record, and first place in the NB/PEI division of the AUS, before losing to Dalhousie in the playoff semi-finals.
From 1980 to 1983, MacNeill took a break from University coaching, but returned in the fall of 1983 to begin what many consider the most successful stretch of coaching ever at UPEI. Over the next 10 years, he would coach four AUS Championship teams, including three in a row from 1986 to 1989. He lost another championship by one point.
MacNeill was named AUS Coach of the Year five more times and coached 26 players to AUS All-Conference honours, including Tracy MacEachern (also inducted this year) and Paula Edwards (a CIS All-Canadian and 2001 UPEI Sport Hall of Fame inductee).
The high point of MacNeill’s coaching career came in 1988–89, when he coached UPEI to a silver medal at the CIS, losing to the undefeated Calgary Dinos in the championship game. That performance, by the coach and the team, showed that a small school such as UPEI could be a force in women’s basketball.
MacNeill took a year off in 1990–91 to work with the host committee of the 1991 Canada Games held in PEI. The following year, he returned to lead his team to a 10–6 record and a berth in the nationals as UPEI hosted the CIS women’s tournament.
In 1992–93, UPEI, under MacNeill’s leadership, once again captured the AUS title and represented the Conference in Victoria.
MacNeill retired from University coaching in 1993, but has remained in coaching at the high school level. He is the Facility Manager for the House of Sport in Charlottetown, and is Acting Executive Director for Sport PEI. He and his wife Maureen live in Charlottetown. They have four adult children.