Southside High School’s Africa Tyler received a number of honors at the schools annual athletic awards ceremony including Female Athlete of the Year. Below, Tyler will join her new teammates at Wallace Community College in the fall to play volleyball and basketball. -- Rick Couch

Tyler’s hard work pays off

Published 8:33pm Thursday, June 9, 2011

During volleyball, basketball and softball season, recent Southside High School graduate Africa Tyler got plenty of attention for her efforts.

Recently, the Wallace Community College signee gained even more recognition by taking top honors in several categories at the school’s sports awards ceremony.

Tyler was named Most Valuable Player in basketball and volleyball, Best Defensive Player in softball, won the All-American Award and was named Female Athlete of the Year.

The awards, Tyler said, proved to her the long hours and hard work was worth the sacrifices she made.

“The awards show that I have been working hard and that hard work is paying off,” she said. “It also shows that I have been improving for the three years I have been here.”

Tyler credited her mother for keeping her grounded and head coach April O’Neal for pushing her to improve every day.

“Mrs. O’Neal instilled in me discipline and resilience,” she said. “She always taught me to push myself.”

Her strong work ethic, Tyler said, was stressed by her mother, who gave her a lesson she will take to the next level..

“She told me there are going to be players who are better than me,” she said. “But she told me to never let them outwork me.”

During Tyler’s career, O’Neal said she tried to keep her from resting on her laurels.

“I know it was tough for her because she had to adjust to me and my assistants in all three sports,” she said. “I expected a lot from her and I stayed on her to show her the little things make a difference. She was always receptive to that.”

In each sport, O’Neal said Tyler was almost like having an extra member on her staff.

“She leads by example,” she said. “Having her here with the teams made my job a lot easier.”

There were times, Tyler said, when there were bumps in the road. But, she said she used the lessons from her mother and O’Neal to push forward.

“There were times I wanted to quit and give up,” she said. “But Mrs. O’Neal and my mother taught me to fight through the trials and tribulations.”

Though her high school career is over, Tyler said her hard work is just beginning. She will join the Wallace volleyball team in the fall and plans to play basketball as well.

In both sports, Tyler said she hopes to continue to  overachievce.

“My goal is to do beyond what is expected of me,” she said.

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