Northern Illinois University women's golf head coach Pam Tyska holds the distinction of being NIU's longest tenured head coach. Tyska is in her 26th year at the helm of the NIU women's golf program after arriving in DeKalb in 1986.
Northern Illinois responded quickly to Tyska's teaching, winning two tournaments and placing in the top five an amazing 10 times in 12 tourneys during the 1986-87 campaign. Tyska and the Huskies have continued that success throughout her career, as she has led NIU to 19 first-place finishes, 28 runner-up marks and 97 top-five showings in 245 tournaments.
The fall of 2009 saw Tyska accomplish one of her career highlights away from the field of competition. Tyska spearheaded the NIU men's and women's golf team's participation in the 2009 Solheim Cup, one of the premier events in women's golf. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Tyska, NIU golfers were on the course as ball-spotters for one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world. It was the first time in Solheim Cup history collegiate golfers had been used in such a capacity.
On the course, Tyska's team carried the excitement from the summer at the Solheim into a successful fall season. The Huskies won the 25th Annual Huskie Classic by outdueling Loyola by seven strokes over the final 18. The Huskies also placed second at the NIU Invitational at Brasada Ranch in Oregon.
The 2008-09 season was highlighted by Tyska disciple Kim Hunley. Hunley recorded two of the best 18-hole performances in NIU history with a 70 at the Peggy Kirk Bell Invitational and a 72 at the NIU Snowbird Intercollegiate, the third and ninth-best scores in the record book. Under Tyska's guidance, Hunley has the best career scoring average in program history with just one semester left to play. As a team, the Huskies recorded four top-five finishes.
The Huskies had one of their best seasons in recent memory in 2007-08, posting six top-10 finishes, winning the Huskie Classic and sweeping the Snowbird Intercollegiate. NIU's victory at the Snowbird was the Huskies' first at that event since 1987. In addition, Hunley and Abbie Many took home the individual titles at the Snowbird Intercollegiate and the Western Illinois Invitational, respectively. Jessica Parmenter had a solid first season of collegiate golf, posting three top-10 finishes.
Tyska's expertise has gone well beyond coaching tactics and has extended into her skill as a recruiter. Included in her resume of talented pupils is Nicole Jeray, selected as the National Player of the Year by both Ram Golf and Golfweek Magazine in 1990-91. Jeray won eight individual medals for the Cardinal and Black between 1989 and 1991 before joining the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour. Tyska's other pupils at NIU include Shelley Wendels-Gilk, who earned her LPGA card in 1996. Allison Beam began her first season on the FUTURES Golf Tour in the summer of 2003 and Kara Soderberg started in 2004.
The Huskies' achievements under Tyska are not limited to the course. Northern Illinois has had consistent representation on the National Golf Coaches Association Academic All-America honor roll, a prestigious list that includes 15 Huskies sporting grade point averages of 3.50 or higher, including 2008 recipients Abbie Many and Devon Harteneck. Many became the 11th Huskie during the Tyska era to earn multiple NGCA Academic All-America accolades. NIU recorded a perfect mark of 1,000 and ranked in the top 10 percent of all women's golf squads in the nation in the NCAA's 2009 Academic Progress Rate Report. It's the sixth-straight year Tyska's squad has maintained a perfect APR.
Tyska owns a host of regional and national awards as well, winning Midwest Region Coach of the Year accolades from the NGCA in 1991 and from the LPGA in 1994 and 1996. The veteran links boss' reputation has earned the respect of her peers, as she has been selected to the elite group of clinicians for the NCAA's Youth Education Through Sports (YES) Clinics every year they have been held since 1993. The clinics help potential collegiate golfers in their development with discussions on the role of academics, goal-setting and mental skill development on and off the course, as well as recruiting and admission requirements.
She was also instrumental in founding "Get a Girl Golfing" clinics at NIU in 1998 and the NIU Hooka-a-Kid on Golf in the Schools program in 2003. In January 2003, Tyska was honored with the inaugural National Golf Coaches Association Founders Award at the annual NGCA Convention in Orlando, Fla.
In 2006, Tyska received the NGCA's most prestigious individual honor, the Gladys Palmer Meritorious Service Award. The award recognizes outstanding service to women's golf "above and beyond the call of duty." Her string of awards continued in 2010, when the Kids Golf Foundation named Tyska an Illinois Site Coordinator of the Year for her work as clinic coordinator of the LPGA/Solheim Ronald McDonald House Junior Golf Clinic.
Tyska not only excels at teaching the game, but as a student of it. On Sept. 14, 2002, Tyska took out her driver and fired a 278-yard shot down the fairway which was good enough for her to qualify for the REMAX World Long Drive World Championships in Mesquite, Nev. She continues to compete and has held a Top 10 World Ranking with a qualifying drive of 298 yards.
Tyska also sat on the NCAA Midwest Regional Selection Committee from 1989 through 1995 and on the NGCA Awards Committee from 1990 through 1996. She served a stint on the NGCA Board of Directors from 1996-2001. In addition to her extensive list of NCAA appointments, Tyska is a member of the NGCA, LPGA, PGA, and the National Association of Golf Educators. She is an advisor for The Fairway Network, the Illinois Junior Golf Association and the Women's Western Golf Association.
Prior to taking the helm at NIU, Tyska was an assistant golf professional at St. Charles Country Club. During the off-seasons, she served as a rules official and assistant tournament director of the FUTURES Ladies Professional Golf Tour in 1983-84 and taught physical education at the University of Chicago Laboratory School.
Tyska earned four varsity letters in golf at Illinois State University, gaining Illinois Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (IAIAW) honors three times. The Hinsdale, Ill., native received her undergraduate degree in physical education with a coaching emphasis from ISU in 1983.
The 47-year-old Tyska serves as the teaching professional at the Buena Vista Golf Club in DeKalb and is co-owner of Golf Schools for Women.