Toth retiring as trainer, but she has plenty to write about UH
MELODY Toth swears it's official, she's really retiring this time (she'd previously come back for one more year) after three decades with the UH athletic department.
Toth is an athletic trainer and she's a character. On Aug. 24 it will be 30 years of working with Hawaii players and coaches. On Aug. 30 she'll be 56. She's taking her dad's advice, she said. He retired from the steel mills at age 55.
So which is tougher -- working in the steel mills or working with Riley Wallace?
She laughs. Maybe it's close.
On Aug. 29 they'll hold a celebration for her at the Stan Sheriff Center's Wong Hospitality Room. Call 956-4537 if you want to join in.
And then -- well, she'll do one last round of August preseason physicals first -- but then, after that, she'll be retired. At the end of the year she'll probably go back to Hammond, Ind., and visit her parents. Her mom had a stroke last April and is doing aqua therapy, so Mel can help.
And also, in retirement, she'll finish writing her book.
SHE'S BEEN TALKING about the book for a while, and it should be a great read.
"It'll be a real fan's book," she said, 30 years of all the great stories behind the scenes with all the great UH teams. Funny stuff. Touching stuff. Inside insight. The 1987 Rainbow Wahine season gets its own chapter, of course.
I asked for a preview. One inside story just to give us a taste.
OK, February 2003, the Bracket Buster at Kent State. Carl English, Mark Campbell, all those guys, Phil Martin. It's snowing. Every player who came in to get taped had shaved his head. "You guys look like a bunch of light bulbs," Toth told them. Except for Michael Kuebler, who had refused.
Later, they walked out of the elevator together. "They forced me into it," Kuebs said.
It was 26 degrees.
The Kent State fans were all over them. All over the guys, all over Riley. The 'Bows hit the pregame locker room and Wallace went off. Toth can still hear it: "Expletive! Expletive! Expletive! If I hear one thing out of your mouth!" Going on and on, don't dare talk back to that crowd. Don't you dare say one thing.
"You can tell the guys are not going to say one thing," Toth said.
After warm-ups they went in again, Wallace last, Toth behind him, picking up stuff off the bench. There was one particular fan just going after the coach, loudly, belligerently, relentlessly. He was a giant man, a huge man. The man kept on them. Heckling at the top of his lungs. Finally, when he hit midcourt, something in Wallace snapped. He stopped.
The coach grabbed his own belly, Toth said, and looking up at the fan, jiggled it up and down and up and down, up and down, up and down: "What do you have to say about that!"
That makes absolutely no sense. Yet, it's strangely hilarious.
Toth said, "He gave the guy the cold stare, What, you like beef or what?"
All the 'Bows were in the locker room by now. No one had seen it but the trainer.
Then, they went in to join the guys. Wallace addressed the team.
"Not one word," he said. "Not one word."