Ray Tomlinson’s departure from the Tigers

One of Australia’s most successful women’s basketball coaches and co-founder of the Melbourne Tigers Women’s Basketball Association to step down from the club.

It is with a deep sense of gratitude that the MCBA would like to announce the departure of Ray Tomlinson, co-founder of the Melbourne Tigers Women’s Basketball Association (MTWBA). This is not just the turning of a page but the end of a defining chapter in the history of the junior Melbourne Tigers girls. Ray has a long and outstanding list of achievements in basketball as both a player and coach, far too many to list here, but among those worthy of highlighting

  • Played with the Melbourne Tigers from 1966 – 1976.
  • Represented Australia as a player at the Olympic games in 1968,1972 and 1976.
  • Head Coach of the first Women’s National Junior World Championship team in 1985.
  • Head Coach at the Junior Women’s World Championships in 1989 when Australia won a bronze medal, the first medal ever won by an Australian team at a world championship.
  • Head Coach of the Australian Junior Women’s Basketball team who won gold at the 1993 World Championships, first and only gold medal ever won by an Australian team.
  • Fourth best all-time coaching record in the WNBL (145 wins from 273 games).

Many won’t be aware that it was not until 1980, some 50 years after the creation of the Melbourne Tigers club, when Sandra and Ray Tomlinson pinned an advertisement onto the notice board at the old Albert Park basketball stadium, calling for U12 players to join what would later become the inaugural Melbourne Tigers junior girls’ basketball team. In those days, Junior girls’ representative basketball was held on a Saturday night at the old Albert Park Basketball Stadium. With Ray at the helm and a team of starry-eyed 7 and 8-year-old girls, including his eldest daughter Samantha, they would go on to place third at the U14 National Club Championships, win many tournaments both locally and interstate, and cap it all off as winners of the U18 Victorian State Championships and the National Junior Classic. The success of this first team, the majority of whom had stayed together from those early days to the end of Juniors, was a testament to Ray’s ability to inspire and motivate players to achieve excellence.  Ray and Sandra’s second daughter, Clarissa, took it one step further. She captained the first team at the Tigers to win the Girls U14 National Club Championships. Eventually, all four of their daughters would represent the Tigers and carve out their own successful basketball careers, and together they laid the cornerstones for the successful club that it is today. 

Beyond the role of teaching the fundamentals of basketball, Ray has imparted his wisdom on many junior athletes spanning four decades, giving them lessons in leadership, teamwork and resilience that will last a lifetime. Ray has had an instrumental role in shaping the success of the club and his legacy will continue to have an impact through many of the athletes he has mentored and who are now in a coaching role themselves or who are volunteering in other ways at the club.

Words can hardly express the depth of appreciation that the MCBA has for the dedication and great knowledge of the game of basketball which Ray has brought to the club and all he has done for the Melbourne Tigers. On behalf of the MCBA and the Junior Girls Representative basketball program, we bid a heartfelt farewell to Ray and wish him all the best in his next adventure.

By Kelly Rogers OAM, former Chair, MCBA Junior Representative Advisory Committee, and President, Melbourne Tigers Women’s Basketball Association