The NBLC announced the return of professional basketball this winter to Ontario earlier this month. We couldn’t be more excited to bring the KW Titans back to the region after the extended pandemic layoff.
We are happy to announce that Mel Kobe has joined the KW Titans Leadership Team as the VP of Basketball Operations and General Manager. Mel is overseeing strategic planning for the organization as well as restructuring business processes, procedures, and financial efficiencies to ensure the sustainability of the organization.
Kobe is now part of a leadership team that, along with Leon Martin as the Owner & President, includes Jeff Berg & Dan Congdon (Leadership Advisors), David Ward (Marketing & Communications Director), and Janine Giovinazzo (Finance). The new Head Coach will also form the additional piece of the team when hired.
Martin was straight to the point when asked why Kobe was a good fit for the job. “Her organizational, budgeting skillset plus her knowledge of basketball,” he said.
Mel shared her thoughts on the community and team:
Titans Assistant Coach Mike Quigley, the Executive Administrator of the KW Youth Basketball Association & KW Vipers, introduced Kobe to Martin earlier this year. The initial thought was that Martin could be a potential mentor and sounding board as Kobe moved into a new career, but after weeks of talking about the community, basketball in general, the Titans’ impact in the Region, and what the future of the sport will look like after the pandemic, she was asked to sign on for the coming season.
“It’s really hard to see so many kids in the region that want to play right now that can’t because of the lack of gym space. The normal house leagues that run aren’t because we can’t get community permits with the schools. KWYBA alone had close to 1,000 kids registering to play house league in 2019.
I have a vision of where I want to see the sport to go locally. Having the KW Titans here as a professional team allows kids and family the chance to see that they don’t need to leave the region to develop as athletes. The least we can do is get the a strong team back on the floor, feed the love of the game, and have an experience where we can all come together again as a community.
With the Raptors winning a NBA championship, the 905 winning a G-League Championship and developing key players for them [Raptors], Jamal Murray, who was once a Viper, playing for the Denver Nuggets, there is a market for the sport. The CEBL offers a summer market for pros that normally wouldn’t be playing to have an ‘offseason’ opportunity to stay sharp. That’s just the men’s side, our women players have been doing amazing things as well over the past number of years. Bridget Carleton, Natalie Achonwa, Kia Nurse, and Aislinn Konig all playing in the WNBA and for the Senior Women’s National Team, the current bid to bring a WNBA team here [Toronto], the success of the 3×3 women’s team internationally, and all the countless women that are playing pros overseas, the possibilities are endless for the game.”
Mel’s business background started in recreation working for the City of Waterloo at the Waterloo Recreation Complex as a customer service associate and the Township of Wellesley as a recreation facilities coordinator. Moving to the Investment and Insurance industry, Mel brings to the table 15 years of service and finance knowledge, along with experience in professional development, project management, onboarding new software, and rewards and recognition.
No stranger to basketball, she earned full scholarship to USC-Upstate, transferring home to finish her USPORTS career at the University of Waterloo earning multiple OUA playoff births. She graduated with a BA majoring in Philosophy, with a minor in Legal Studies and Criminology, as well as a certificate in general Social Work. She continues to play basketball in the Grand River Senior Women’s league and Ontario Masters tournaments.
As a coach, she is certified Train to Train, and is expected to be certified Train to Compete by the end of 2021. She most recently held the position of head coach of the U19 Kitchener Vipers’ Women’s team, and as an assistant with the U12 girls team. Previously she has gained experience as assistant coach including a year at McMaster University with the women’s team, winning an OUA championship in the 2005-2006 season and participating in the CIS National tournament in New Brunswick, and the high-school level with senior boys at St. Michael’s Catholic Secondary School in Stratford, and U19 boys Waterloo Wildhawks.
A Brock University Sport Management student, Mel will be graduating with first class honours in December 2021.