Slone receives Big Ten Coach of the Year award


Photo Courtesy of Illini Athletics

Women’s golf head coach Renee Slone laughs alongside an Illini golfer. Slone was awarded Big Ten Coach of the Year.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

Women’s golf head coach Renee Slone was awarded the Big Ten Coach of the Year on Tuesday after the Illini tied for second at the Big Ten tournament.

Slone has been head coach of the Illini for 13 seasons, beginning her career in 2006. As a former Illini golfer who won National Player of the Year in 1993 from both the National Golf Coaches Association and Golfweek, Slone finished first individually in the Big Ten tournament in 1991 and 1993. Slone also claimed All-Big Ten honors from 1991 to 1993 and is the first to win Big Ten Coach of the Year in Illinois history.

Twenty-six years after her second Big Ten Player of the Year accolade, Slone became Coach of the Year. She won Big Ten Player of the Year in 1992 and 1993, even though the Illini have yet to win a Big Ten tournament.

She said she began to coach after Paula Smith, Slone’s coach at Illinois, told Slone she was retiring and consequently inspired Slone to begin her coaching career at Bradley.

“Once I got involved, it’s pretty exciting to play a role in these young people’s lives,” Slone said. “I feel very lucky to have the opportunity that I do to work with the student-athletes.”

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On Wednesday, as the Illini watched the unveiling of the NCAA regional brackets, Slone deflected the attention of her award to the people around her.

“It’s nice to be recognized by your peers,” Slone said. “The credit really all goes to our team members and support staff.”

First-year assistant coach Pina Gentile has known Slone for a while and really enjoys coaching with her and working with the golfers.

“I’ve known Renee for a really long time,” Gentile said. “The time she puts into everything she does and just the investment that she puts in to each one of us every day, it’s amazing.”

Illinois is the No. 7 seed in this year’s regional in East Lansing, Michigan, and will face Big Ten teams like No. 5-seed, and host, Michigan State, as well as Indiana. The Illini tied with the Hoosiers last weekend at the conference tournament.

The Illini had four players who made all-Big Ten teams: freshmen Crystal Wang and Kornkamol Sukaree on the first team and senior Bing Singhsumalee and junior Tristyn Nowlin on the second team.

Singhsumalee thought Slone was a deserving winner of Coach of the Year, and she was happy to hear the news.

“This award was definitely well deserved,” Singhsumalee said. “She’s done everything for us that she possibly can, and I’m really glad she was my coach these past four years.”

Although the Illini’s hard work has paid off with Big Ten awards, the team is now focusing back to the NCAA regional tournament.


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