A love of people, teaching, and sports allowed Terri Slide to bring groups of students together who might never have crossed paths.
Slide serves as the head coach of the eighth grade girls’ basketball team at Dacula Middle School. She is a product of the Gwinnett County school system, having attended Benefield Elementary, Sweetwater Middle, and Berkmar High schools before receiving a full scholarship and playing basketball for four years at Georgia Southwestern State University while earning her undergraduate and Masters degrees, both in special education.
“After I finished playing basketball in college, I never dreamed of coaching basketball. It was something that just fell into my lap,” said Slide. “Now, I have absolutely fallen in love with it. For four months out of the year my life revolves around the twelve girls that make up my team. We practice every day and I also offer additional individual shooting practices in the mornings for any players who would like to take advantage of the opportunity for shooting tips.”
Slide is also involved with the sixth and seventh grade teams, providing the opportunity to help develop the younger girls that will one day play for her. She also assists with the Dacula High School open practices for both middle and high school girls during the summer, in an effort to bridge the two programs and have cohesiveness between the two schools.
Currently in her thirteenth year of coaching, Slide also teaches students with severe and profound disabilities.
“Before I started coaching, I did not know many of the regular education students at Dacula Middle. As a special education teacher, our class is very involved and our daily schedule is very different than the rest of the school,” remembered Slide. “During my first year of coaching, I was shocked when I would walk down the hall and students would say “Hi, Coach Slide.” So many of the regular education students were recognizing me, and also began stopping by my classroom.”
Specifically, many of Slide’s players began to stop by her classroom to say hello to her and her students. Several of them began to volunteer to help with various things in her class.
“To see the interaction between my students and the players was wonderful. One year, I was even able to have one of my students help out as a team manager.”
“As much as I love coaching basketball, it has been most rewarding for me to have my players form relationships with my students.”