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Camille Hobby
Camille Hobby is thinking about a future in coaching (Photo by Department of Intercollegiate Athletics)

RST’s Hobby mulls coaching after graduation


Camille Hobby’s life has always revolved around sports. She grew up moving from city to city as her father, Marion—currently the defensive line coach for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals—coached at various colleges and in the NFL, but her personal passion was always for basketball. Now, at 23, graduating with two degrees, three ACC tournament wins and a Women's Basketball Invitation Tournament championship under her belt, the 6-foot-3-inch center is ready to start a new chapter in her basketball career.

“I think it was kind of just a natural progression,” Hobby said. “I’ve been around sports my whole entire life. I definitely want to stay in sports—college athletics, professional, whatever the case is, so in the future I want to be a coach. I want to get into coaching, and I thought it was the best idea for me to go into (the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism).”

Hobby graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a master’s degree in recreation, sport and tourism in May 2024 after spending her fifth year of eligibility with the Fighting Illini women’s basketball team. Hobby earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management from North Carolina State University, where she would have played all four years, had COVID-19 not taken a season away.

“I had one year [of eligibility] due to COVID, so I transferred primarily because of basketball, because of having that extra year. But then I wanted to continue that sports management realm of study, so that’s how I ventured my way to the RST department.”

In deciding where to spend her last year of eligibility, a few key aspects drew Hobby to choose Illinois. She said the school’s reputation was one factor in her decision, giving a nod to the iconic “Block I” impact on a resume.

“Everyone sees the I. Everyone knows the logo, you know, and that’s extremely important, especially when you’re going into jobs and looking for future places of work.”

She also highlighted the university’s emphasis on community and academics that impacted her decision.

“It’s a tight-knit community—definitely a college town. So, that played a huge role into that [decision], especially playing basketball in an environment that supports the needs of the team, and having great academics was important to me.”

After college, Hobby wants to play professionally in Europe before moving on to coach basketball, putting both her degree and lifetime of experience playing basketball to use. She said coaching would allow her to have a positive impact on the lives of other young athletes, something she has not only experienced from an athlete’s perspective but also witnessed through her father’s own career. 

“He played a huge part in that,” Hobby said. “I’ve seen the incredible players that he’s coached in the past and he’s been influential in their lives and that’s something that I want to do, is to make an impact on young people’s lives and get them to be the best versions of themselves.”

Hobby also reflected on how her experience earning a degree in RST aided her service-oriented view of coaching, saying “I’ve always been a person that wants to help people and be of service to others and make them better, and I feel like that’s kind of what the RST department is; it is in the service business of helping others and showing them things and that’s kind of where my heart lies. That’s where I know my dad’s heart lies as well, helping those around us, and the best way, I feel, to do that, is through coaching.”

The program not only helped Hobby prepare for coaching as a public service, but it also emphasized to her the importance of diversity and inclusion in coaching.

“I feel like the biggest part of being a coach is the diversity and equity part of it—universal design and making sure that there’s a space for everyone. I feel like that’s so important, especially as a coach. You want to make sure that your players feel like they are important, feel like they are accepted, whoever they are, what makes them different and unique.”

One specific experience in the program stuck with Hobby: watching wheelchair basketball club teams compete. She recalled how it made her re-think diversity in sports, saying, “that was completely eye-opening for me. I think a lot of the time we hear about having that inclusion, having diversity, but a lot of the time there’s not much action behind it. To see them and see how competitive they are was really inspiring, and it just allowed me to get into that—finding equity and inclusion for everyone. Not just in terms of race or gender, but for someone who has challenges that limit them from playing traditional sports.”

Hobby intends to follow in the footsteps of the people she has looked up to: her father and her own coaches, who she said inspired her on and off the court.

“Having people who advocate for you, people who are just good people who want to see you succeed, that’s important. To see them, it makes me want to be like that in the future: always encouraging my players, believing in them, and wanting the best for them.”

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