Teel to be inducted into state Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

Shannon Ahearn, Photo Editor

English teacher Melissa Teel will be joining the ranks of the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in April. As a player and a coach for many years, Teel is honored to be part of the induction.

“I was really excited, really happy,” she said. “it feels really good to be recognized in [this] way. It felt great to be recognized on that level by my peers and other coaches.”

Since the age of 11, Teel has pursued her passion for basketball. From 2008-2011, Teel played center at Western Connecticut State University, which is a member of the NCAA Division III, the Eastern College Athletic Conference, and the the Little East Conference.

Teel is well deserving of the title; at WCSU she earned many awards including the conference MVP Player twice, MVP Defensive Player twice, State Farm’s All-American, Little East Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, and she is the only player — male or female — at WCSU to have both 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Teel also led the nation in blocked shots in Division III her junior year.

She recalls her best game to be the LEC Championship her senior year when she broke the record of the most points scored in one game at 39 points along with 22 rebounds and nine blocks.

Her success in college brought opportunities to play professionally for both Brazil and England’s women’s basketball teams; however, both offers were turned down by Teel as she undertook her career as a teacher.

“Basketball has taught me so much about myself,” she said. “There are things that have helped me as a teacher, like being organized and time management. It’s taught me how to be a part of something bigger than myself and what it means to be apart of a team.”

Teel also was head coach of the Lady Hatters’ junior varsity basketball team, and an assistant coach for the varsity team. She held those posts for six years. This year she has accepted a position as an assistant coach for the WSCU women’s basketball team.

Emily Grenier, senior, is one of many of Teel’s players who have developed a close bond throughout her time coaching at DHS.

“From her, I learned not only the basics of basketball, [but that] no matter what is going on in my small world, or the world as a whole, there is always a positive light on things,” Grenier said. “The Hall of Fame is lucky to have her.”

Kimberley Rybczyk, the head women’s basketball coach at WCSU, also has nothing but praise for Teel’s accomplishments.

It’s a fantastic honor and one that is extremely well deserved,” Rybczyk explained. “She is a role model to all and a great student-athlete, [as well as a] person, to emulate.”

Rybczyk continued, saying that Teel’s “great work ethic” and “infectious personality” made her a hard-working player and valuable friend. She expects that when Teel is eligible for the WCSU Hall of Fame, she’ll have the same results.

As Teel continues to succeed, she only hopes to inspire in others what basketball has inspired in her own life.

“I’ve had so many great coaches and teachers in my life that have inspired me and if I could do that for someone else, that’s a gift in itself,” Teel said.