New Penn State York women's basketball coach to share her love of the game

Terri Van Slyke’s love of basketball began as a toddler, and she credits her love of the game to the enthusiastic encouragement of her late grandmother, Maxine Lykins.  When Van Slyke was just 2 years old, Lykins gave her a Larry Bird basketball net (Bird was her grandmother’s favorite basketball player), and by age 3, Van Slyke was already an avid basketball fan, spending hours dunking the basketball into the net, and watching games by her grandmother's side. Although Van Slyke lost her grandmother to cancer when she was 13 years old, she never lost the passion for the game that was inspired through their relationship. At age 33, Van Slyke has been named the new head women's basketball coach at Penn State York.

“We are excited to have Terri Van Slyke as the new head coach of the Penn State York women’s basketball team,” said Chris Beaverson, athletic director at the campus. “Terri has been with us for several years, and we look forward to her enthusiasm and knowledge of the game as she works to rebuild our program.”

Van Slyke began playing competitive basketball in fifth grade and continued to play right through her sophomore year of college at Kansas Wesleyan University (KWU). She played guard and forward for KWU, an NAIA Division II team from 2000-02, but a knee injury plagued her playing career and led to a decision to stop playing basketball and focus solely on her academic degree. While a player, she earned all-academic honors from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, as well as the Lady Coyotes’ best role player award.  

“After I couldn’t play basketball anymore, I didn’t pick up a basketball for two years,” said Van Slyke. “It is tough giving up something that’s been a big part of your life.”  

Basketball was always her first love, but in high school at Albany R-III High School in Albany, Mo., she was a three-sport athlete in basketball, track and softball. She earned all-conference basketball honors in 1999-2000 and was a four-year Missouri state track medalist. She was also a part of the relay team that holds the 400 meter relay track record at Albany High School.

In addition to her playing experience, Van Slyke brings previous coaching experience at Penn State York to the women’s basketball program. She served as assistant women’s coach in 2011-12 and 2013-15, and in 2012-13 she was the interim head coach. Under her direction, the women’s basketball team went to the playoffs for the first time in many years. She was also a mentor to Courtney Riggs, the first women’s player in the history of the campus to reach the 1,000-points-scored mark. Riggs, who recently graduated from Penn State, credits Van Slyke with playing a big role in helping her achieve this major basketball milestone.

“I found my passion for basketball again when I took the assistant coaching job at Penn State York,” said Van Slyke. “I was very lucky that the campus was looking for an assistant women’s coach and Don Walker, the former assistant athletic director at the campus, encouraged me to take the job. My parents, who have always been my biggest fans, also encouraged me to coach.”

“I found my passion for basketball again when I took the assistant coaching job at Penn State York.”

-- Terri Van Slyke, head coach of the Penn State York women’s basketball team

Serving as basketball coach is not Van Slyke’s main job at the campus; she is also an admissions counselor and has been since 2011. She also works as an admissions liaison with the athletic programs and encourages students to work hard in the classroom as well as in their sport. Prior to coming to York, Van Slyke worked as the assistant director of admissions and an admissions counselor at KWU from 2005-2011.

“I want to be a mentor for my players and someone they can go to for help and support,” said Van Slyke.

Van Slyke hopes to provide a positive, well-rounded experience for her players, while encouraging their love for playing basketball and being part of a cohesive team.  She admits she wants them to be competitive and win games, but, more importantly, she encourages her players to grow as individuals, and to set and reach personal goals, both on and off the court. The academic performance of her players is of primary importance to Van Slyke. As a coach, she inspires her players to focus on basketball, but at the same time she emphasizes that their Penn State education should be their top priority.

"I'm also really excited to announce that Kylee (Myers) Bello will be joining our coaching staff as an assistant coach,” said Van Slyke. “Kylee graduated from Delone Catholic. She is going to bring a lot of basketball experience, knowledge, and also a familiarity to the area that will be a huge asset to our program. We have a lot of the same philosophies on basketball and life outside of basketball, so I'm really looking forward to the opportunity we have to work together and mentor our terrific student-athletes."

Van Slyke’s philosophy, something she lives every day, is borrowed from Dr. Forrest “Phog” Allen: Never lose sight of your opportunity to direct by personal example.  

Van Slyke earned a bachelor's degree in communications from KWU in 2004 and completed a master's degree in coaching and athletic administration through Concordia University in Irvine, Calif., in 2014.

Her professional areas of interest include student affairs, athletics and public relations. She is an avid Kansas City Royals baseball fan, loves basketball, and is a member of the Colonel James Smith-Yorktown Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Van Slyke is grateful for all of the support she has received from family and friends. Although it has been a long time since eighth grade, when she wrote her grandmother’s initials on her basketball shoes to honor her, the memories and love of basketball they shared together inspire Van Slyke in her heart and on the court every day. There is no question she has made her grandmother proud.

For information on the Penn State York women’s basketball team or other intercollegiate programs at the campus, visit  http://sports.yk.psu.edu.

Last Updated August 21, 2015