Tobin Anderson: A homegrown, family-focused coach


(Photo courtesy Spartan Athletics): Tobin Anderson is pictured.

Jake Holland, Reporter

Tobin Anderson grew up playing basketball for his dad in a small Iowa farm town, where his teammates rose before dawn to help with chores like milking cows. It’s where St. Thomas Aquinas’ men’s basketball coach gets his work ethic. 

Anderson credits his father with nurturing his interest in coaching and teaching him how to be successful. Steve Anderson’s practice of inviting players home for dinner is one Anderson uses with his STAC team today.

“I knew from an early age I wanted to be a coach because my dad was a coach,” Anderson said in an interview, as his Spartans prepared to open a 2021 season whose start was repeatedly postponed because of the pandemic.

His Spartan teams have one of the best records in the northeast during Anderson’s seven years in Sparkill.

They enter the 2021 season having won four of the last five East Coast Conference championships, with appearances in five straight NCAA tournaments. After a 25-5 season last year, The Basketball Times has them ranked 14th in the nation.

“We’re picked 14th in the country… and I honestly, I think we’re better than that,” Anderson said. “I think we’ve got a chance to be like a top five, six team in the country. I really believe that.” 

The National Association of Basketball coaches ranks the Spartans ninth in the country.

Anderson spent years coaching alongside his father, including the seven Steve Anderson spent as an assistant to his son at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.

Anderson gets many of his techniques and drills from his father. One of his team’s favorites is the Two Bounce drill, where the coach bounces the ball twice, and the player who gets the ball first tries to score.

“It’s very physical and very competitive, guys love that,” Anderson said. 

“We may be the only team in the country who does that drill, it’s about 80 years old,” he added with a chuckle.

“A lot of my drills I get from my dad,” Anderson added. “If you went back to a practice plan (of his fathers) I would say 60-70 percent. He was a really good coach… by far my biggest influence has been him.”

Having his father so close to his coaching career may be one of the biggest reasons Anderson views his team as a family. 

But it’s been harder to cultivate that family atmosphere during a global pandemic.

With the prospect of a long season ahead, Anderson knows it’s important not to burn his team out.

He said that he strives to keep a balance, not only making sure the team’s physical health is up but also their academic and emotional health. He wants to make sure the players are “controlling their controllable.”

“How you’re working, how you’re preparing,” he said.

Keeping his “family” together during the pandemic hasn’t been easy.

“We’ve started out doing a lot of Zoom meetings with our team,” he said. “But as you know, that gets a little old after a while…It’s hard, the good thing is we’re around each other now. It’s good to be in the gym.”