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Milton Hershey School Girls’ Basketball Coach Helps Her Players Win On and Off the Court

By Tina Klotzbeecher-Thomas, MHS Head Girls’ Basketball Coach

I’ve loved the game of basketball since I was young. After playing at Millersville University, where I met my husband, we knew that basketball would always be a part of our lives. What we didn’t know is that one day it would lead us to Milton Hershey School.

Girls' basketball coach poses with a basketball in hand.

Fast forward more than 30 years and my days are spent teaching gifted students in Harrisburg City School District, and my evenings are spent working with MHS female athletes, honing their skills to become competitive players on the court.

Since I first picked up a basketball, I’ve always wanted to play. My love of this game, though, elevated when my daughter, Alyssa Thomas, started to play in elementary school. Coaching and cheering her on as she grew her own love of the game was something I am very grateful for. Having played basketball her whole life, we knew she was good and would play in college, but we didn’t expect her to go all the way to the WNBA—which is exactly what she did.

In all my years of coaching my daughter, my husband and I worked to instill in her that the game was not about her, but about the team and the players around her. Alyssa learned that basketball isn’t about shining as an individual player, it’s about winning as a team. This is exactly what I teach the girls in the MHS basketball program.

We work together as a team to build each other up and be competitive on the court, while upholding mutual respect for the other team. My goal as a coach is to help them see the world through playing the sport they love.

As a team, we’ve gone to the United States Olympic trials, attended University of Maryland women’s basketball games—the same team my daughter played on—and so much more. I often remind the girls how lucky they are to have the resources they have to do whatever they want with their passion for basketball. If they want to play in college, we will help them get there.

I’m incredibly proud of the way this team and program have grown over the last two years, and I’m proud to represent the Spartans alongside our players. I couldn’t imagine something better to do after work than to come see the smiling faces of the girls I coach. To watch their friendships and relationships grow with one another and to be a part of their growth is an honor.

I look forward to coming to practice and games every day to be a part of the MHS community. From teachers and houseparents to administrative and athletics staff, everyone on campus wants our students to succeed. It takes a community for a team to be successful and that’s what we have.

Learn More about Athletics at MHS Learn More about Women in Sports at MHS

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