On March 21, former Montclair State University women’s basketball player Melissa Tobie played her final game for the Red Hawks in a 56-48 win against Tufts University in the 2015 NCAA third place game in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Though Melissa Tobie’s playing career for Montclair State has since come to an end, she is not done just yet. With the departure of former Assistant Coach Brian Sansom, who left for Fairleigh Dickson University in the spring, Tobie became the new assistant coach for the Red Hawks for the 2015-2016 season.
“I knew I was going to have one more semester at Montclair State and I still wanted to be involved with the program, so I talked to Coach Harvey and she was more than happy to have me,” said Tobie.
Currently, Tobie is the all-time leader in defensive rebounds for Montclair State women’s basketball with 714 in total. In the past, she has been named NJAC Player of the Year (2013, 2014 and 2015) and NJAC Rookie of the Year (2012).
“She is a once-in-a-generation player and I have been around her a long time,” said Mike Scala, Director of Sports Information at Montclair State. “She is by far the best women’s basketball player I have ever seen. I know about Carol Blazejowski, [who played from 1974-1978] and [is] obviously the standard. [But], sometimes you go forward and somebody takes over the mantle of being the next great player. That is Melissa.”
While Tobie is excited to start her coaching career, she is not the only one. Her former teammates are also overjoyed for their former teammate to take on her new role with the Red Hawks.
Senior guard Kayla Ceballos played alongside Tobie for three seasons and is very thrilled for her to be coaching the team this year. “I am very excited to be coached by Melissa. Obviously I wish she was still on the court with us, [but] I am excited to see what she brings to the table as a coach and to see how she goes about game situations as a coach instead of a player,” Ceballos said.
Ceballos also said she does not expect to be treated much differently by Tobie than she was before. “She will have more to say on plays,” said Ceballos. “I think she will be a great motivator, especially to the freshmen, but I don’t think she will be that different because she has always been a leader to us.”
Still, Tobie admits that the transition from player to coach will be different, but it is a challenge that she is ready to take on. “I have always been one of the leaders on the team,” said Tobie. “It is a different type of leadership now. It’s not lead by example. It’s more [along the lines] of ‘lead and instruct.’ It’s a little different.”
Kate Tobie, a sophomore guard and Melissa Tobie’s younger sister, is very excited for her to be coaching the team as well. Kate Tobie said that she expects Melissa Tobie to be just as vocal, if not more, than she was last year.
However, she expects her sister’s role to be different. “She really has a great understanding for the game,” said Kate Tobie. “She is very smart. She knew what we needed and when and I think that will carry over as a coach.”
Kate Tobie also thinks her sister will still be loved by the returning players as well as be well-respected by the freshman players when they get to know her. “I think everyone was really close with Melissa,” said Kate Tobie. “She was always personable and had great relationships with everyone, which led to our success. I think she will be a great coach.”
As excited as Melissa Tobie is to be coaching the Red Hawks this season, she admits that she has bigger plans for the future. “The plan is to eventually go to graduate school and get my Master’s,” said Melissa Tobie. “That’s the next step if I don’t decide to play.”