NEW KENSINGTON – For Penn State New Kensington, fifth year senior Ryliegh Beck, basketball has been a big part of his life since third year.
Time has really passed for the Saegertown native as this season with the Nittany Lions will be her last as a competitive basketball player. It’s a career that spanned representing the PENNCREST School District at Maplewood Junior / Senior High, the University of Pittsburgh in Titusville Panthers, and now the Penn State New Kensington Nittany Lions.
A 2017 Maplewood graduate, Beck won four letters with the Maplewood Lady Tigers and has been instrumental in improving the program over her four years. However, she thought basketball was probably over for her after her high school career until Pitt-Titusville came to one of her games and continued to chase after her throughout her senior season. Not knowing exactly what she wanted to do after high school, she stayed close to home and traveled to Pitt-Titusville to pursue her hoops career and study for her associate degree in social services.
This decision was helpful as she discovered her passion for psychology, service and also played for a Pitt-Titusville team in her sophomore year winning the Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference (WPCC) regular season championship. , a regional title and finished as finalists in the WPCC Conference Championship. While this is impressive, the program achieved it all with just seven girls at the end of the season.
“We really had to take care of ourselves and our bodies to make sure we were healthier and fitter than the previous season,” said Beck. “We started this season without doing our best, but we worked hard and finished strong. Knowing that we only had two years to play together, it was a great way to end my time there.
Similar to her high school recruiting process, Beck believed her days playing college basketball would come to an end, but in fact she still had two seasons ahead of her as Penn State New Kensington looked to restart their basketball program. feminine. This was only the second season of the show, and Beck saw an opportunity to study for a bachelor’s degree in psychology and continue playing hoops as something she couldn’t pass up.
“It was crazy that once again a coach (Rich Marshall) showed up to a game I was playing to sign me up,” she said. “It wouldn’t be a big change in terms of size, so it all fell back into place.”
Trying to start a girls’ basketball program in a school with less than 550 students will certainly be a challenge, and COVID-19 has done the program no service. The 2018-19 season was the program’s first, but the team only competed in the winter semester and played eight games in total. The 2019-20 season would be the team’s first full season, and Beck helped the program win their first two games. Their first win was a 52-40 win over Penn State Mont Alto on November 23, 2019, and it’s a moment she cites as one of basketball’s best memories to date.
“It was a great moment because this season was a struggle to be a new program. It was nice to celebrate with the team after the game and to give our then coach his first victory.
The program earned a second victory in its first season with the program, defeating Beaver County Community College on December 20, 2019. This victory was the program’s last to date as a challenge to be a new program for the 2019 -2020. season and COVID-19 have created challenges for the Nittany Lions team. In fact, the 2020-21 season did not take place for the Penn State New Kensington women’s basketball program because the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) canceled the season.
What ensued was that the program lost players due to a degree, a transfer, or even the decision that they no longer wanted to play college basketball. With that in mind, it almost made the 2021-22 season an inaugural season again. Due to a lack of players, the program searched the campus for players who would help the team speak for their third season. Luckily, they found nine girls who all want to represent Penn State New Kensington and set the program up to be more successful.
“This season will be successful if we continue to improve and be one,” Beck said. We want to make the most of it and I’m grateful that I can continue to play the game that I love. Hopefully we can get at least one win this season.
As she enters the 2022 spring semester, Beck is grateful for the opportunities basketball has rewarded her. It helped her make good friends and stay on track for a bachelor’s degree. It also helped her discover that she wanted a career in social work as an addiction and alcohol counselor or as a youth counselor. Some of the steps she has taken to make this happen include researching future Masters of Social Work programs as well as working for the Arc of Crawford County.
There she worked as a receptionist as well as a direct support professional (DSP) to assist with the trade mission of “promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community.” throughout their life. She also volunteered to coach for the Special Olympics with her father, Todd Beck, which has helped her understand that she hopes to move on to training after this season with the Nittany Lions.
It took a number of people to help Beck over the past five years in college, but no one deserves more credit than his parents Heather and Todd Beck. When she doubted herself as a player or a student, they were there to help her keep going. The eight-hour trips during his college career weren’t enough for the Becks, as they were in every third-year game this season.
Playing basketball has also introduced her to some of her key life mentors, including her high school basketball coach Kevin Turner, Pitt-Titusville athletic director Harry Miller, and current basketball coach Megan Voleck. which has helped her become a better leader this season. .
While it certainly was difficult to be a student and student-athlete during her days at Penn State New Kensington, people in a few years may look back and think of Rylieigh Beck as someone who has never ditched the game and helped try. to build a successful program for the future of the Nittany Lions. Along the way, she has found a career area that she is passionate about and met key mentors who have helped her strive for a better future.