During the 2011 Little East Conference tournament, Melissa Teel broke the Western Connecticut State University single-game scoring record two nights in a row. Scoring 38 points in a semifinal win over Rhode Island College, Melissa followed with 39 the next night, along with 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots, leading the Colonials to the tournament championship over Eastern Connecticut State.
There are many reasons this why Melissa, a two-time Little East Player of the Year and Division III State Farm All-American, has found her way into the hall of fame.
“Melissa is a great choice for induction into the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Not only did she achieve individual success, but she was a big reason for the team's success,” Western coach Kim Rybczyk said in a release on the team's web page, upon the announcement of her former player’s selection.
“The program has always had a rich tradition of success, including 13 NCAA tournament appearances. Melissa, along with her classmates, helped bring that success back to the forefront. You will not find a more well-rounded person, with a contagious personality, than Melissa Teel. She epitomizes everything you would want in a student-athlete.”
Now in her first season as an assistant coach at Western, under Rybczyk, Melissa holds several individual career records, including most rebounds (1,052) and most blocked shots (367). Fifth in scoring (1,184 points) and fourth in field goals made (490), she was the first-ever basketball player at Western, male or female, to record more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. In 2011, she became the first player in league history to be named Little East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. Melissa finished with 18.2 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, and totaled 121 blocked shots, as the Colonials made their third straight trip to the NCAA tournament. She was later named to the Little East's 25th Anniversary Team.
“My dad encouraged me to play at a young age because I was so tall,” Melissa said. “… Basketball has been an outlet for me for my entire life. It has constantly opened doors for me and impacted the way I see the world.”
Melissa, a 2007 graduate of Hamden High School, where she also competed in volleyball and track and field, currently teaches English at Danbury High School. She lists her mom as her biggest influence in basketball, because of her unconditional support, and said she would like to be the head coach of her own basketball program some day.
“Coach Rybczyk has pushed me out of my comfort zone and has inspired me to be the woman I am today,” Melissa said. “… Teaching is my passion and I feel it is my duty to inspire my students in the same way that so many people have inspired me.”