Jerry Slykhuis Basketball Showcase: Friends, family come together this weekend for showcase in honor of CFHS coach, wife

With eyes down the court, Jerry Slykhuis had once envisioned high profile teams, from all around the midwest, to be competing in a basketball showcase. Now, close friends, colleagues and former players are helping organize the first Jerry Slykhuis Basketball Showcase in honor of the beloved basketball coach.

With the anniversary of their deaths around the corner, the tragic lives lost of Jerry and Jane Slykhuis have yet to leave the minds of family, friends and the community.

While sharing memories of Jerry and Jane at their funeral, Keith Sandvold, John Martin and others exchanged the thought of putting on one of Slykhuis’ dreams and making it a reality.

“It was something he always thought about doing. We always talked about how great it’d be to bring something like this here. People ask, why? Well, why not?” asked Sandvold, close friend to both Jerry and Jane.

And soon, all the teams fell into place. First starting out with Bolingbrook, Sandvold had connected with Rob Brost, an ex-player of Slykhuis’ on the idea at the visitation. As the assistant men’s basketball coach at UNI, Kyle Green contacted DeLaSalle from Minnesota. With other contacts and help of the Gerdes family, Sandvold visited with Lee Summit.

As talk about the showcase buzzed in the basketball world as a chance to honor Slykhuis and his love for the game, more teams wanted in on this event.

Coach Steve Bergman of Iowa City West will also be competing, and Dubuque Hempstead will make the sixth men’s team for the event.

Sandvold had also presented the idea to Cedar Falls women’s basketball coach Greg Groen and Ankeny Centennial coach Scott Dejong, a good friend to the Slykhuis family, and they both agreed to join too.

Slykhuis and his wife were known as very giving and helpful people. And now, the community is helping to give back to them.

Main Street Sweets, Steege’s Meat Market, the Cedar Valley Sports Commission, Powers Manufacturing and local families of volunteers will donate men’s basketball warmups and time in Slykhuis’ honor, and Sandvold said he is hoping the turnout will be big.

Old players and friends including Paul Wolf, John Martin, Michele and Kyle Green, Darin and Melanie Tournier, Jeff Sandvold and John Lynch will be in attendance and volunteering.

“This is for Jerry’s memory. We want it to be an ongoing showcase. It’s important that we do this not only for him but do it for the school and the kids,” Sandvold said.

Sandvold said all the profits from the showcase will be going toward the Cedar Falls schools athletics department. “Jerry would enjoy the competition,” he said. “It would mean so much to him.”

Slykhuis’ son Matt will be joining and cheering on Cedar Falls as well as speak briefly Friday night before a weekend of basketball kicks off.

Older brother Steve Slykhuis will not be in attendance, but he said he believes the showcase is very special. “My dad loved basketball. It’s a very appropriate way to honor his legacy as a coach. My dad would be very proud. It’s something he would have wanted to do and be an active part of the showcase,” Steve said.

Slykhuis had touched many lives through basketball, especially in coaching at Snow Valley Basketball Camp.

Senior A.J. Green had the chance to work with Slykhuis after his father sought out individual lessons, and later on, Green attended Snow Valley.

“I instantly could tell that he was a really genuine guy that just wanted to help other people and teach to me everything he knew about basketball,” Green said.

Green said he thinks it would mean a lot to coach Slykhuis to have people come together and compete through the game of basketball. “Because, for coach it always seemed to me that everything he did in basketball had a bigger purpose.”

Green said Slykhuis was the kind of person and coach who wanted to see everyone around him succeed and would do anything he could in order to help others achieve their goals. “It is really cool to be able to honor coach with a showcase this weekend, and playing in it is even cooler, so hopefully we can win a couple games this weekend for him.”

Another player that Slykhuis had touched with his gifted knowledge of basketball was junior Logan Wolf, whose father had played for Slykhuis in high school.

Wolf had started working individually with Slykhuis and had attended Snow Valley to better his basketball skills. Little did he know there would be a few lessons to be learned off the court too.

Wolf said one of his favorite memories with his coach was when he lost the keys to his dorm room the first year he attended Snow Valley.

“I searched frantically until I found them in the most obvious spot, on my bed,” Wolf said. “Again, he smiled and laughed. One thing I will always remember is how helpful and kind he was.”

Wolf said that Slykhuis’ smile will forever stick in his mind whenever he thinks of him.

He said that he had learned so many great things about basketball, including working hard and life in general, from coach Slykhuis, and he said that he will always think of him as a role model.

“This is an event in his honor to remember his legacy that would mean a lot to him. If he could see the positive influence and legacy he had on the people not only in the Cedar Valley but around the world, he would be proud,” Wolf said.

Kicking off Friday night, Dec. 15, is Lee Summit vs. DeLaSalle at 6:30 p.m., and Bolingbrook vs. Cedar Falls will close the night at 8 p.m.

On Saturday, Dec. 16, Iowa City West will be playing Bolingbrook at 2 p.m. to start off the day, followed by Dubuque Hempstead vs. Lee Summit at 3:45 p.m.

The Cedar Falls women’s basketball game is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. against Ankeny Centennial. And lastly, closing the night, will be DeLaSalle vs. Cedar Falls at 7:15 p.m.

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