Holly Forbes looks back on her time at Robert Morris


Thomas Ognibene

Holly Forbes fights off Marie-Leticia Ziba of Sacred Heart.

Tyler Gallo

As the final buzzer sounded after a tough 68-54 loss in Highland Heights at the hands of Northern Kentucky in the opening round of the Horizon League Tournament, it spelled the end of Robert Morris’ season and also the end of several players’ time at Robert Morris.

Three Colonials transferred, one retired from basketball due to medical reasons and the group of five seniors had potentially played their final games for RMU. One opted to return for the next season in her extra year and another signed professionally in her native Japan.

One of those seniors, Holly Forbes, a familiar face in the lineup every night who had started every game since she joined from JuCo two seasons ago, remarked on her social media that the book was not closed on her collegiate career. She and fellow senior Megan Callahan both opted to use their extra eligibility to graduate transfer due to their eligibility at Robert Morris being complete.

Callahan was the first to announce her new home, transferring to conference foe Youngstown State. A few days before the school year was to end, Forbes announced her commitment to sign with Tennessee Martin, a member of the Ohio Valley Conference who has enjoyed conference success.

While the book is closed on her Robert Morris career, she looks back on it fondly. First arriving before the 2019-20 season from Mineral Area College, a JuCo near her home in Bonne Terre, Missouri where she was selected to the NJCAA All-America team in both seasons, Forbes noted the coaching staff and team as the reason she chose RMU.

“When I went on my visit, the reason RMU stood out was the girls [on the team],” Forbes said. “They were honest about the program. It was a great visit, the coaching staff was excellent and I think it was the best visit I had during that process.”

Moving from Missouri to Pittsburgh is no easy trip. Bonne Terre sits about ten hours and some change from Moon Township, and while the adjustment to moving far from home was tough at first, she found solace in the fact that other players on the team were also going through the same thing due to Coach Buscaglia’s propensity to recruit players abroad.

“I didn’t realize how hard moving far away from home was going to be at first,” she said. “Luckily, the team helped, and half of them were from overseas and it helped to know they dealt with the same adjustments and they made [Robert Morris] a home for me.”

Another element that perhaps helped Forbes in her first season was the major success of the program in 2019-20. After they finished their non-conference slate, they laid waste to the Northeast Conference, starting the season winning 14 consecutive games before a loss to Mount St. Mary’s. They finished the season 17-1 in conference play, dispensing Wagner in the opening round of the tournament, and as the highest-remaining seed in the tournament, were slated to head directly to the NCAA Tournament and never got the chance to do so due to the pandemic. Forbes remarked on the team’s success that season.

Photo Credit: Thomas Ognibene/Colonial Sports Network

“That experience was surreal, and we were all riding on a high because we were told we were going directly to March Madness and didn’t have to worry about the conference tournament,” she said. “Unfortunately, [March Madness] got canceled, but it was still an awesome experience with awesome people.”

The pandemic brought a lot of uncertainty to athletics early on, and after losing the NCAA Tournament, the team departed the Northeast Conference for the Horizon League. Forbes noted that COVID coupled with the conference move was a rocky time for the team.

“COVID was hard on everyone. Not only did we not know our opponents well since we were moving to a new conference, but we had to go through seven weeks of quarantine,” Forbes said. “It was hard not getting the chance to go out or exercise and took a toll on the team, but I think we grew a lot this season.”

The team lost a non-conference schedule due to quarantine and was thrust directly into conference play, greeted rudely by Northern Kentucky in the first game and dropping eight games in a row to start the season.

A bright spot on the season was forward Sol Castro, who blossomed on the roster as a freshman into the team’s premier scoring threat. This came a year after Nneka Ezeigbo, one of the best women’s basketball players the program has seen, graduated from the program. Forbes spoke about her firsthand experience playing with these two.

“[Sol and Nneka] raised the bar for not only their expectations but our expectations as a team. To see Sol come in and [dominate] as a freshman was awesome.”

As the season came to a close, Forbes saved her best for last, capping off the season with back-to-back double-digit performances against lowly Purdue Fort Wayne, dropping 14 and 16 points, respectively. Forbes mentioned how she wanted to go out strongly.

“I wanted to leave it all out on the floor for the final two games. I didn’t know what I was going to do the next season so I tried to leave it all out there, plus I was sick of losing and wanted a win.”

Robert Morris fell in the opening round of the Horizon League Tournament, and with it, came Forbes’ last appearance as a Colonial. She had started every game possible since she came to Moon, finishing averaging 5.3 points, 5 rebounds, 1.1 steals, surpassing 200 total rebounds in her two seasons. Always a steady presence on the floor, Forbes was surprised to be trusted right away in the rotation.

“I didn’t know that was the role I was going to be given when I got here, but I’m honored that I got that chance,” Forbes said. “It was nice to be trusted and all I wanted to do was perform so the coaches could continue to trust me. I took that role in stride and did everything they needed me to do.”

COVID afforded all athletes an extra year of eligibility, and Forbes knew right away she would use it. Entering the transfer portal as a graduate transfer, on April 21, Forbes announced that she had signed with Tennessee Martin, the two-time defending OVC champions.

“Coach Kevin McMillan was my first call and he set the bar really high for other coaches. When that bar wasn’t passed, I decided on Tennessee Martin. I’m looking forward to not only getting to know my teammates but also look and continue their conference success.”

Forbes will settle into UTM as the days pass, but reflected on how she would like to be remembered as a Colonial.

“I would like to be remembered as someone who worked hard and gave their all on the basketball court, always giving 110-percent every time I was out there.

As the uncertain times wane, one thing is for certain: Holly Forbes is prepared for the next chapter in her book, a chapter colored navy and orange for Tennessee Martin.