New Wittenberg women’s basketball coach adds 11 recruits

Melissa Kolbe, the new Wittenberg women's basketball coach, coaches for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Photo courtesy of the University of Cincinnati

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Melissa Kolbe, the new Wittenberg women's basketball coach, coaches for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Photo courtesy of the University of Cincinnati

Centerville, Troy Christian grads join Melissa Kolbe’s program

Melissa Kolbe has had the women’s basketball head coaching job at Wittenberg for close to four months now. She can’t wait until school starts later this month because it’ll be her first chance to get the whole team together, including 11 newcomers.

“We have as many new players as we have returners,” Kobe said, “so we’re really focusing on them and their chemistry. The players getting to know each other is going to be very important.”

Kolbe, a 1999 Wittenberg graduate who spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach and associate head coach with the Cincinnati Bearcats, was hired in April three weeks after Tamika Williams-Jeter left Wittenberg after one season to take the head coaching job with the Dayton Flyers.

Kolbe has had Zoom calls with her players this summer, and she credited three returning players — juniors Evie Wolshire, Jade Simpson and Kylee Slone — for taking the lead this summer in keeping everyone in communication and making sure everyone was sticking to their offseason workout plans.

Kolbe spent the spring working on the 2022 recruiting class. She said she’s fortunate she’s been in the state since 2018. Even before that, when she was at Western Kentucky for three seasons and at Eastern Kentucky for seven seasons, she recruited in Ohio.

“I’ve tried to really maintain ties with a lot of people in this state just because of how good girls basketball is not only in the Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati area but the state as a whole,” she said. “Being at UC allowed me to rebuild and reconnect with a lot of people and establish new relationships, and that has obviously helped me with the transition to Wittenberg. Wittenberg itself and our athletic programs, just the history of our school, carries a big weight with people.”

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Kolbe added 11 recruits to the program. Most of those players were recruited by Jeter-Williams and Trendale Perkins, who assisted Jeter-Williams at Wittenberg and now works as a video coordinator on her staff at Dayton.

“I kind of tied up some loose strings with a couple of the players,” Kolbe said, “and obviously had to make sure that everyone still was good coming to Witt and comfortable with me, but the class they put together and the work that they put in was unreal. I’m very blessed to be able to walk into a situation where they won a championship last year, but then also they were able to turn that into a phenomenal recruiting class. They really laid the foundation for everything that’s going to come.”

Here’s the list of the 11 players and the comments they made on the Wittenberg women’s basketball official Twitter account about why they picked Wittenberg this summer:

Cadence Boyd, 5-5 guard, Monroe High School: “I chose Witt because I love how the women’s basketball team is very close with each other and very supportive.”

Mara Briscoe, 5-6 guard, Little Miami High School: “I chose Witt because of the great atmosphere between everyone on campus and the supportive community that comes with Wittenberg women’s basketball.”

Alyssa Brown, 5-7 guard, Little Miami High School: “I chose Witt because not only do I get to play the sport I love, but the well-connected community within Wittenberg is very welcoming.”

Lynzee Cronkleton, 5-6 guard, Bellefontaine: “I chose Witt because it is a very beautiful campus with very wonderful people!”

Emily Doerman, 5-9 forward, Lakota West: “I chose Witt because it’s checked all the boxes that are important to me: a good education, close to home, and a place where I can play at a higher level.”

Jazmyn Gaines-Burns, 5-6 guard, Blandensburg, MD (Morehead State University transfer): “I chose to transfer to Witt because I knew the Witt family would care for me before they knew I made the decision to come.”

Rachel Hartman, 5-11 guard, Grandview Heights, Ohio (University of Rochester transfer): “I chose Witt for the variety of academic options and to have a family like atmosphere on campus.”

Haylyn Hiles, 5-11 guard, Monroe Central, Lewisville, Ohio: “I chose Witt because it felt like the right fit for me. I get to play basketball and study marine biology like I’ve always dreamed of doing.”

Sarah Johnson, 6-2 center, Troy Christian High School: “I chose Witt because the campus felt like home, the people are very including, and I’ve only heard amazing things about Witt’s science programs.”

Lydia Kastor, guard, Berkshire High School, Burton, Ohio: “I chose Witt because the team felt like a family and I wanted to be a part of that for the next four years.”

Molly Scott, 6-0 forward, Centerville High School: “I chose Witt because everyone was so approachable, the programs were great, and the team sounded amazing.”

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