Veteran coach joins Lady Topper basketball staff

Evan DePasco

Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard has added a new coach to her staff for the upcoming season. 

The Lady Topper basketball program announced Wednesday that Melissa Kolbe has been named an assistant. 

Kolbe joins the program in the wake of its second consecutive conference championship season and NCAA tournament birth. She will fill the void left by the departure of assistant coach Candyce Bingham. 

She brings more than 14 years of coaching experience at the Division I level, including a six-year stint in the Conference USA. 

Clark-Heard highlighted several aspects of Kolbe’s career when referring to what she will add to the team and staff. 

“(Kolbe) is familiar with the state of Kentucky from her time at EKU and with the rich tradition of basketball in Conference USA through her time at East Carolina.” Clark-Heard said in a WKU press release. “She will be a great asset to our program as we continue to build on our recent success and aspire to sustain the great success that makes Lady Topper Basketball one of the premier places for women’s basketball.”

Kolbe spent last season as an assistant and recruiting coordinator at Mount St. Mary’s, under Head Coach Bryan Whitten. Before that, she had coaching jobs at Eastern Kentucky (recruiting coordinator and assistant), Mercer, ECU and Valdosta State. 

“I’ll bring a lot of energy to the team and love for the game,” Kolbe said. “I’m looking forward to helping Coach Heard take this program to the next level.”  

Kolbe has known Clark-Heard for the better part of a decade and said she is excited to work with her on the same staff.   

“I’ve been fortunate to know Coach Heard for 10 years,” Kolbe said. “Seeing the success she’s had as an assistant coach and head coach makes me feel honored that she’s willing to let me join her staff.”

Before starting her career as a coach, the Cleveland native played basketball at Wittenberg University, a Division III program in Springfield, Ohio. 

There she helped bring the Tigers to three conference championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances. 

“Across the state, the WKU program has more tradition than most schools,” Kolbe said. 

Kolbe expressed her interest in being back in the competitive nature of C-USA after last working in the Northeast Conference. She noted her excitement to compete for a spot in the NCAA tournament. 

“We were fortunate to rebuild the ECU program, win the conference tournament and go to the NCAA tournament.” Kolbe said. “I’m looking forward to continuing that success here at WKU.”