On Feb. 26, Melissa Tobie won her fourth straight New Jersey Athletic Conference championship with the Montclair State women’s basketball team as the Red Hawks defeated Rowan University 68-62. However, this time she won an NJAC championship not as a player, but as a coach for Montclair State.
Tobie made the transition to assistant women’s basketball coach in the fall semester of 2015 and has made a big impact as a coach to her superiors, players and peers.
“She has done a terrific job with understanding both the coaches’ and the players’ perspective side of things,” said Montclair State Head Coach Karin Harvey. “She has done a great job with talking to the players and getting them motivated to play their best basketball.”
Tobie, who is currently a graduate student at Montclair State, played for the Red Hawks for fours years, where she became their all-time leader in defensive rebounds and received the honor of NJAC Player of the Year three times. Tobie admits that, at first, the transition was tough, but she eventually grew into her new role.
“My team made it very easy for me to readjust,” said Tobie. “The biggest difference is I can’t physically go out and play, but I have warmed up to my role as a coach.”
Kate Tobie, sophomore guard and Melissa Tobie’s younger sister, admits having her sister as her coach is different, but she filled the role exactly the way she knew she would. She also adds that as a coach, Tobie almost adds a second pair of eyes to her sister.
“She still has a voice on the game and everybody on the floor can here her,” said Kate Tobie. “She would watch me play and point things out on the sideline that I couldn’t see on the court.”
Tobie has not only made an impact on her sister, but she also stepped up for the team when they needed her the most.
Senior guard Kayla Ceballos suffered a season ending ACL injury when the team traveled to Puerto Rico on Dec. 28. The moment she went down, Ceballos said, was when she really started to see Tobie transition into a coach.
“She started to talk to players individually, motivate them and get them to play their best brand of basketball,” said Ceballos. “She stepped up big time when I got hurt.”
Harvey agreed, saying she saw the connection Tobie had with the players from last season — which is one of the reasons why she believes that Tobie was able to motivate them to play well.
“They have so much confidence in her,” said Harvey. “She has the same skill set when it comes to being a leader as a player and a coach and when she connects them both, it makes for a great leader.”
Tobie recalls one game during the regular season where she thought quickly on her feet to come up with a play late in the game that would help
the team gain some momentum and confidence. “There was one game late in the season where we really needed a basket, and I suggested a play to Coach Harvey, and it helped seal the game for us,” said Tobie.
With NCAA playoffs on the horizon, Tobie is focused on helping her team return to the NCAA Division III Final Four. However, she does admit that her future is a question when it comes to being a Red Hawks coach.
“I am looking to get a graduate assistant job on campus. If that happens, I can no longer be a paid coach,” said Tobie. “I should know my future by the end of the spring semester.”