Formerly known as the Team Hill Holiday Classic, the now Ollie Gelston Classic has been rebranded in honor of legendary Montclair State University basketball coach, Ollie Gelston and his many contributions to the MSU basketball program. The classic is hosted by Montclair State University and includes a series of collegiate basketball games. At the helm of RedHawks Basketball, Coach Gelston totaled 303 wins which still stands as an all-time record at Montclair State.
Both those who coached alongside as well as played under Gelston went on to be key figures in both the collegiate and professional basketball level. The list includes Brian Hill, the former head coach of the Orlando Magic and (then) Vancouver Grizzlies, and Brendan Suhr, an assistant with the NBA champion Detroit Pistons in 1989 and 1990. Mike Fratello never played for or coached with Gelston before going on to coach in 1,215 NBA games as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Memphis Grizzlies, but the former Montclair State football player did serve as Gelston's statistician. Fred Hill, the now assistant coach at 2016 Big-East champions, Seton Hall, was one of the Gelston's greatest pupils. Hill served as both a player(1978-1981) as well as a coach under Gelston(1981-1982). Hill now, with over 30 years of Division 1 coaching experience is the founder of Team Hill Foundation at the Ollie Gelston Classic.
Team Hill Foundation, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to providing kids with opportunities they might not otherwise experience. More than 1,000 fourth, fifth and sixth graders have attended Classic events in its history. 2017, Ollie Gelston Classic hosted over 250 children in its inception. Using the teachings of Coach Gelston, his former player who serves as event ambassadors not only give back to their legendary coach but also pass down his teachings to the youth in which attend the events.
"It's very gratifying to know I was able to help and influence people along the way, I have a legacy that is being perpetuated and that is all a coach can ever ask for or want." - Ollie Gelston
(Left-Right) Nick Matarazzo, Coach Ollie Gelston, Jeffery Johnson, and Fred Hill
“Ollie Gelston was the epitome of a great basketball coach. His knowledge of the game was outstanding. He took a bunch of scrappy players and made winners out of us.”
- Christopher R. Mann, MD
MSU Basketball (1980-1984)
"I would like to thank Coach Gelston for holding me accountable to me! He saw something in me that I didn't know existed. I truly would not be who I am today had it not bee for MSU, basketball, my teammates, and coaches."
- Jeffery Johnson
MSU Basketball (1988-1991)
“I will go on record that he [Coach Gelston] is a major reason I have succeeded off the court. Although I did not realize at the time, but it is crystal clear now that Coach Gelston taught me many life lessons about a 'never quit' attitude, handling adversity as a motivator, inspiring others through actions, understanding that all teammates are NOT wired the same and therefore they will respond differently by what you do or say. But, most importantly, leading people by example.”
- Nick Matarazzo
MSU Basketball (1975-1979)