SMC’s Athlete of the Year scores big in Montana

It is a serious decision to choose to leave the big, bright lights of the Los Angeles metropolis for the more laid back, quiet city of Bozeman, Mont. But that is exactly what Michael Tobin Jr. did this past spring when he accepted a scholarship offer to Montana State following the end of the spring semester at Santa Monica College. Tobin was a standout on the SMC men’s track and field team, and was named the SMC Student Athlete of the Year.

He was presented with the award during SMC’s annual Student Athletic Awards banquet last May. The awards are sponsored by the SMC General Advisory Board, which is made up of many local community members. The honors recognize student-athletes who are distinguished by their high academic standing and success in their particular sport.

Fifteen athletes from all across SMC’s Athletics Department were picked as Student Athletes of the Year, but Tobin received the honor of being named the overall winner.

“At first I was surprised, but the more I thought about it, the more honored I felt,” Tobin said in a phone interview. “It’s amazing, and it gives me a chip on my shoulder to go out and perform.”

According to Tobin, other colleges such as UC San Diego, UC Berkeley and UC Irvine extended offers, but he ultimately decided on Montana State. One might think that it would be difficult to adjust to such a different environment, but not for Tobin.

He said he fits in more with small town life than the hustle and bustle of big city living because it’s not as busy and “people are nicer.” Another reason for Tobin’s choice to attend Montana State is the likeness between the track and field teams at SMC and Montana State. He finds the coaching style at his new school similar to that of SMC coach Larry Silva, who “coaches the right way,” according to Tobin.

Although he is enjoying life in his new surroundings, he has many fond memories of his time at Santa Monica College, such as when the team made the State Championships.

“Just to see the expression on [my] coach’s face—how happy he was and proud of us made it all worthwhile,” said Tobin, “We weren’t even supposed to be there.”

Perhaps the one thing that he misses most about SMC is the camaraderie he developed with his teammates and his coach.

“I miss them all,” Tobin said. “That was the best group of guys I’ve been around. We’re like family. Those were the best friendships I’ve ever had.”