Hilbert introduced Melissa Graham as the program's new women’s basketball coach. Graham, a highly decorated student-athlete, will begin her duties immediately as she prepares for her inaugural season as a collegiate head coach.
She replaces Rob Peterson, who coached the Hawks to a record of 14-108 in five seasons at the helm. Hilbert was 3-20 this past season. Graham was a graduate assistant in the Hilbert athletic department and an assistant high school basketball coach.
Graham enjoyed a distinguished basketball career at Geneseo. At the conclusion of her final season in 2013, she earned the athletic department’s Leadership and Contribution Award after she garnered D3hoops.com All-Region honors and was named as the SUNYAC women’s basketball Player of the Year. She helped guide the Knights to an overall 78-32 record during her days and carried them to two title games, winning the championship in 2011 but falling short in 2013.
Graham tallied 1,042 points, 732 rebound, 295 assists, 156 steals and 115 blocks in 110 collegiate games wearing navy and white. Additionally, she received several individual team awards (MVP, Hustle Award and Defensive MVP) during her four-year career as a Knight.
Academically, Graham was a four-time member of the SUNYAC Commissioner’s List/All-Academic Team, and received the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, which honors State University of New York students who best demonstrate and are recognized for their integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives.
Graham’s leadership abilities and work ethic are a perfect fit for the professional expectations and demands which come with her new head coaching position.
“Melissa has been with us for the last two years in her graduate assistant role within our department and has shown a great work ethic and passion for Hilbert athletics,” said John Czarnecki, Director of intercollegiate athletics. “As a young up-and-coming talent in the collegiate coaching world, I am confident in her ability to lead this program to new heights and we all look forward to great things from Melissa.”
The Orchard Park native has been able to balance her graduate studies at SUNY Buffalo along with her role as the agricultural policy advisor for state Sen. Patrick Gallivan. She also served as varsity lacrosse coach as well as an assistant coach to their basketball and soccer teams at Mt. Mercy Academy while coaching a 15U Buffalo Titans AAU team for the past two springs. Additionally, Graham was a graduate assistant within the Hilbert athletic department for two years providing sports information support and coordinating game-day game management coverage.
In her second season as the lacrosse head coach at Mt. Mercy, she transformed the 2015 team (winless for three straight seasons) to an 8-4 record (3rd place) and a program-first appearance in the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association playoffs. The Magic’s basketball program recorded 41 wins and 12 losses over the past two seasons with her contributions on the sidelines. Mt. Mercy collected a Catholic Class B New York State title in 2014 with an appearance in the NYS Federation tournament and was runner-up in the Monsignor Martin Class A championship game in 2015.
Graham graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree majoring in biology with a minor in environmental studies and psychology while being named to the dean’s List five semesters. She is currently enrolled in the psychology master’s program at Buffalo where she studies aggression and impulsivity in athletes.