Remembering Kelly Dunham
The Mohawk College community mourns the passing of Kelly Dunham, a lifelong Mountaineer who inspired countless people in the college community and far beyond. She passed away May 24 at the age of 51, succumbing to cancer.
Throughout her time as a student, athlete, coach and colleague, Kelly shared her quick smile, generous heart and incredible energy with Mohawk staff, students and alumni.
“She spent her life and career instilling that fierce spirit to succeed and achieve, with class and compassion, in everyone whose lives she touched on and off the court,” remembers longtime friend and former Mohawk Manager of Varsity Athletics and Facilities, Laurie Cahill. “Her unbridled passion and enthusiasm were infectious. She would light up a room and your mood in an instant.”
Dunham, nee Buchanan, first joined Mohawk as a student and athlete. She was a two-time captain of the Mountaineers women’s basketball team. Kelly’s outstanding skills and leadership on the court earned her three OCAA League All-Star awards and she was a key contributor to her team’s amazing undefeated 1990/91 season, eventually winning the OCAA championship. She was a three-time OCAA League All-Star and a CCAA Tournament All-Star and had a collection of Mountaineer athletics awards to her name, as well.
As a student, she also played varsity women’s softball and served on the Students’ Athletics Committee as Varsity Representative. In her graduating year, Kelly served as President of the Students’ Athletics Committee.
She graduated with a Recreation Leadership diploma and a certificate in Office Administration.
Kelly’s love for basketball, combined with her understanding of people and the game enabled her to make a smooth transition from player to coach.
She spent time working in the Athletics Department at McMaster University before returning to Mohawk, where she became an assistant women’s basketball coach for the Mountaineers. She then spent time as the Head Coach for the U19 Team Ontario from 1998 to 2001, before returning to Mohawk as Head Coach in 2002.
In 2005, Kelly joined the Mohawk Office of Alumni Relations while coaching the women’s basketball team, harnessing her Mountaineer spirit to bring the alumni community closer together.
For nearly two decades, she shared her joyful perspective and competitive determination with everyone who had the pleasure of spending time with her; student athletes, colleagues, alumni and just about anyone who would accept a smile. She coached until 2015 and served Mohawk alumni until June 2019.
Kelly took an opportunity in 2019 to return to McMaster as an Assistant Women’s Basketball coach and working in the Marauders’ Athletics department.
She has been honoured by Mohawk as a Mountaineer Hall of Fame member, received a President's Award (2013), President's Award of Excellence (2010) and an Award of Excellence (2010).
Her bright talents as a coach and an administrator shone far beyond the boundaries of Mohawk College. She dedicated herself to coaching at an athletic summer camp, was involved with the Canada Summer Games and community basketball programs. She was married to Doug and the proud mother of two children, Mitchell and Ally.
We keep her family and all who mourn her passing in our thoughts.
As Laurie Cahill remembers, Kelly always signed off with Mohawk in her heart: “Once A Mountaineer, Always A Mountaineer”