Tyla Heard may be somewhat new to volleyball, but the Sapulpa sophomore has picked it up quickly, helping the Chieftains build on a successful 2020 season.
As Sapulpa continues to play well, holding a 15-10 record through Sept. 14, all she can think about is a return to the state tournament, but this time to take it a couple of steps further than their Class 5A quarterfinal finish last year.
“The ultimate goal is to get a ring,” said Heard, who already has one from playing a key role on Sapulpa’s Class 5A state championship basketball team last season. “We’re trying to win state this year and I think we have a really good chance. It’s my motivation. That’s a dream.”
Heard, who is playing just her third season of volleyball, has taken her game to another level in 2021.
“I’ve been working really hard,” said Heard, who also runs track, helping Sapulpa finish fourth at the 5A state track meet last spring. “I just have a goal I’ve set for myself, and I know, to get there, I have to work for it. I’ve definitely been getting better, I’ve gotten a lot better this year, for sure – learning my role and what I know I need to be doing and how to accomplish that.”
While athletics are a big part of her life, Heard is also involved in Leadership Group, FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), the Native American Student Association (NASA) while also serving as a manager for Sapulpa’s cross country team.
She acknowledges that being half Native American is an important part of her identity.
“I’m half-native, half-Black,” she said. “I’m enrolled Seneca Cayuga, but I’m also Seminole, Cree, Sac and Fox, Wyandotte. My whole life, I’ve been going to stomp dances and pow wows and I just love it.”
As for her newest athletic endeavor, volleyball, Heard believes that the Chieftains are ready to excel over the second half of the season and into the playoffs.
“There’s definitely been some ups and downs,” she said. “But overall, we’re a really tight-knit team and we trust each other, and we’ve been able to get through the ups and downs together.”