Time flies, but memories last a lifetime. That’s what they say, right?
Though we may never know who “they” is, Tobias Sjoberg can definitely attest to that statement. The 6–9 center from Sweden knows that four years certainly goes by fast when you’re 3,808 miles away from home. As Marist Athletics sets into their yearly-rountined transition into the focal sport of the college. Sjoberg’s #11 jersey gets thrown on for its final season.
Sjoberg joined the Marist men’s basketball team in 2016 and wasted no time settling into the program as he started in 18 of the team’s 31 games that season. With the 2019-2020 season officially underway with the Red Foxes facing off against the Virginia Military Institute Keydets, Sjoberg reflects on his time here at Marist while also anxiously waiting for what’s in store for him and his basketball career.
“It’s a long season for basketball, and there’s going to be sometimes when you just don’t want to be here. Usually around Christmas break is when some people lose their motivation because no one else is here, and it’s only us. Basketball is everything,” he shared. “That’s usually when younger people lose some type of focus on the project of our season. As a senior who’s been doing this for three years and now my fourth, hopefully I can help them stay focused the entire time to help us compete this year.”
Despite the upheaval of old coach, Mike Maker, in 2018, Sjoberg thrived going into the new reign of current head coach, John Dunne. While Dunne managed to restructure the entire team by cutting some of Sjoberg’s old teammates, Tobias persisted through Dunne’s evaluation process and remained on the squad. As one of the sole survivors throughout a Division I basketball coaching switch, Sjoberg isn’t the type of guy to let that go to his head. His consistent attitude and performance has made him a calming constant in a wave of abrupt change that the Marist men’s basketball program has faced in the last two years.
“Everyday he comes to work. It’s just a testament to his hard work that he’s been here for so long, and through all of the stuff that’s happened,” said Braden Bell, a junior college transfer.
Though Tobias isn’t seen necessarily as a key-playmaker on the court, in the locker room his leadership skills are vital to the dynamic of this basketball team. “I think he’s been a lot more vocal I’ve realized, getting the teammates together for certain events. He’s been more vocal on the court. He leads by example,” said Zion Tordoff, one of the many new faces on the squad.
Aside from what some would consider a harsh betrayal of previous player’s dedication to the basketball program, Sjoberg has seemingly bought into the new philosophy that Dunne had brought into the McCann Arena.
“I agree with a lot of the things that [Dunne] wanted to do and what he said. That also made it an easier transition. The overall welcomeness of Dunne with both the junior and senior class from last year [2018-2019], by doing it his way and also playing a bit into the old way we did things,” Sjoberg admitted. “It wasn’t a whole overhaul of a culture.”
As Tobias sits tall, yet comfortably, in a plush chair in the basketball wing of McCann, he was all smiles and laughs on the eve of the first game of the season with new players: Zion and Braden. But the smiles that were radiating off of Sjoberg’s notable face were in no way a solid distraction from bounciness of his trunk-like legs that suppressed the floor-space around him.
It was as if he knew that as of Friday night, his final journey with Division I collegiate basketball would begin.
Edited by Doug Johnston