I’m Tina Slinker and my basketball journey is a bit unusual. As young girl, from Portales, New Mexico, I had little opportunity to play sports growing up because organized sports for girls was non-existent. Not even minimally existent—none! However, I had an incredible P.E. teacher, Barbara George, and she did everything she could to emulate a competitive landscape for girls. I can remember leaving my academic classes, racing to P.E. because it was the closest thing I had to exercising my love of sports and competition. I fought for years for girls to have the opportunity to play sports. It wasn’t until my senior year that the school finally created a few sports for girls…basketball being one of them. I played 12 games that year in High School. I was so grateful, and I loved it!
A major change in my young sport life came when I attended the Charles Heatly Summer Basketball Camp in Lindsey, Oklahoma. A camp counselor, by the name of Karen Edgar, better know today as Karen Edgar Knight (Bobby Knight’s wife) gave me hope, taught me a work ethic, and spent every open moment at camp helping me become better. I knew when I left camp that I wanted to continue playing the game of basketball and someday be a coach like her. She and that camp changed my life!
I visited Wayland one weekend, totally inexperienced, with no credentials and little understanding of the game. I had always worked hard, was and am very competitive and wanted to win. I can remember Coach Weese met me and asked Coach Sharp to get me some tennis shoes so I could go to the court and shoot. OMG! I can’t even imagine how ugly that shot was, but they still gave me a chance . . . a chance to come to Wayland and be a part of one of the . . . NO the best Women’s Basketball Program in the Nation. I played at Wayland from 1974-78. First for Coach Marsha Sharp as a freshman and Coach Dean Weese the rest of the way . . . need I say more. I can still hear SLINKER being yelled out daily, but both were the greatest coaches and teachers of the game.
I was never a star . . . but I was part of one of the greatest programs in the country. Everyday, I got butterflies tying my shoes for practice. I was excited and scared. I was unsure and yet ready for the life ahead of me . . . one with academic endeavors and one that offered the path of being a member of the Flying Queens. The Hutchersons were amazing and the tradition of the program preceded us everywhere we went to play. I made great friends and had a remarkable college career. I loved my teammates, I loved the challenge each day of becoming better, and I was proud to be a member of such a great program, full of class, tradition and excellence.
My time at Wayland helped craft a path for me that never would have happened without this opportunity. I have been in Athletics for 40 years and hopefully touched the lives of many. After graduating in 1978, I began my coaching career under the now legendary coach, Marsha Sharp, in Lockney, Texas, as an assistant coach in basketball and track & field. During that year, I received a call from the Chicago Hustle and had the opportunity to play in the first Women’s Professional Basketball League from 1980-1981. What an amazing experience and one that I never would have enjoyed if my name weren’t tagged with “Flying Queens of Wayland Baptist.” Being a Flying Queen opened the doors to so many additional opportunities. Just mentioning the program gave me, and my Wayland teammates, a positive entrance into so many future endeavors.
When the WBL folded, I went back to my roots in Texas, and eventually landed a head- coaching job at Bridgeport, Texas, thanks to the help of former Wayland men’s basketball coach Bob Clindaniel. He knew if he hired a former Flying Queen he was, not only getting a good coach, but also someone who understood the importance of building the character of young girls through sports. I coached there for seven years, until Coach Marsha Sharp offered me an Assistant Coaching position at Texas Tech University. It was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.
I only coached at Texas Tech for one year, due to the fact that The University of North Texas (UNT) offered me the head coaching position. What an incredible journey I had at UNT. I was the Head Women’s Basketball Coach there for 19 years. It gave me the opportunity to share my passion for the game and my love for making a difference in young girls’ lives, while coaching at the highest level against the best teams in the country. I am proud that I am currently the winningest coach at UNT and so pleased that one of my former players is now the head coach at UNT. This journey would not have happened if it weren’t for Coach Weese taking that chance on me and allowing me to become a Wayland Baptist Flying Queen.
I have coached hundreds of young girls. They are now young, successful women who are making a positive impact on our world. Sports changed my life and took me on a journey that was powerful and fulfilling. I want this opportunity for all!
I ended my coaching career by being an Athletic Director at one of the most prestigious all girls’ private schools in the nation, The Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas. What a wonderful 10-year experience of mentoring coaches and building programs that touched so many lives. In such a crucial time, the message that sports can teach girls “who they are” is the most important aspect to be taught through sports.
I am a member of the Texas Speakers Bureau and was chosen to do a Tedx talk in 2014. These two wonderful opportunities started with my opportunity to play college basketball and the many lessons I learned from being a Flying Queen.
I am so grateful to Wayland Baptist and the Flying Queens. To those strong women role models that paved the way as pioneers in women’s basketball, who stood strong in the face of adversity and created a program of excellence, class and winning tradition, I thank you!
Wayland Grad 1978
Flying Queens Forever!