Kelly M. Sylvester leads the 'Roo softball program for her first season as their head coach in 2019. Sylvester’s vision is a team united in purpose, where the coaching staff and student-athletes choices reflect their strong foundation of shared values – both on and off the softball field.
Sylvester brings to RooNation a wealth of Regional playoff experience. In her five years of coaching collegiate softball, she has led four teams into Regionals. Two Regional appearances were with the Harford Fighting Owls, a DI NJCAA school where Sylvester served as head coach. Both on and off the field, Sylvester steadily grew the Harford softball program.
Under Sylvester’s leadership, the Fighting Owls softball program crushed it academically. In her first year, they raised their GPA by 0.71. The softball program was the first team sport at Harford to earn an NJCAA Team Academic Excellence Award for their 3.02 GPA. In her three years, 10 student-athletes earned NJCAA All-Academic Awards, seven student-athletes were named MDJUCO All-Academic, and 21 student-athletes were recognized on the Athletics Director Honor Roll.
On the field, Sylvester had the privilege of coaching 12 All-Conference student-athletes during her three years. Her 2017 team, which was a predominantly freshman squad, shattered many school records both offensively and defensively. The 2017 Fighting Owls team won the Region opener against the 2-seed host team, USC Salkhatchie, in extra innings, which put them one win shy of the Region Finals. In 2018, they continued their standard of excellence, earning a second playoff run and leading the MDJUCO conference with eight student-athletes earning All-Conference recognition.
Prior to her years as Harford softball’s head coach, Sylvester coached two years at Penn State-Berks as an assistant. In both seasons, Berks won the NEAC championship and competed in the NCAA Regional Tournament. Sylvester primarily served as the pitcher, catcher, and outfielder coach. The accomplishments of Berks’ pitching staff included two NEAC South Division Pitcher-of-the-Year awards; 16 shutouts, including a perfect game with 11 strikeouts; and a collective ERA that ranked in the top 25% nationally.
Sylvester received a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from Brooklyn College. During her senior softball season, Sylvester was named Student-Athlete of the Month (April). In April, her bat heated up to a .429 average, scoring 12 runs and driving in 11 RBI. That 2006 season, she was the pitch-calling catcher for a phenomenal lefty, Jaime Bellettini, who ranked second nationally in NCAA DIII for her 12.7 strikeout average per seven innings, and boasted a 2.24 ERA. Brooklyn head coach Joanne Riggs recognized Sylvester’s team-first leadership as “an integral part of the team” for a squad that finished in first place in the CUNYAC East Division.
Immediately after this season, Sylvester relocated from New York City to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She met her husband playing co-ed recreational softball and he helped inspire her to pursue her passion of mentoring college students. To facilitate her career change, Sylvester earned two Masters of Education degrees (sports management and English) from Millersville University and was the Moment of Reflection Speaker at Commencement. Sylvester is a proud member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, earned a rank of Three-Star Master Coach through the National Fastpitch Coaching College, and enjoys being an instructor at numerous NCAA DI softball camps, including Pennsylvania State University, Kent State University, and Lehigh University.