Coming home: Okanagan softball star returns after career-changing injury

Shayla Tyerman joins UBC Okanagan in their inaugural season in the WCSA

A second chance to play the sport she loves has come up for Shayla Tyerman.

The Rutland Secondary graduate was injured during her first year playing for the University of Jamestown softball team in the U.S.

A concussion sidelined her for a better part of two years before she was able to return to competitive softball, this time for her hometown university.

“It’s the chance of a lifetime really,” said Tyerman.

“I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to play university softball again, and I can’t wait for the season to start.”

Part of a new competitive sports model at the university this year, UBC Okanagan is bringing in a brand new team to play in the Western Collegiate Softball Association.

The Heat’s season kicks off in less than three weeks and Tyerman is healthy, excited and putting the past behind her.

“Bad circumstances turned around and has worked into something good. When you can’t do something you love for so long, you realize how much you miss it,” said Tyerman.

“Not everyone gets this chance, and I’m excited to see what I and the team can do this year.”

READ MORE: Mistake-riddled offence leads to first loss for Okanagan Sun

Both her parents played softball and they get Tyerman involved at a young age.

At age 12, she was playing with the Kelowna Heat rep team, and now just over 10 years later she’s finishing her university education in her hometown while playing the sport she remains dedicated to.

She’s ready for the proverbial ‘at-bat’ in this second chance at her dreams, this time surrounded by family.

“When I was playing in the U.S., my family didn’t get to see as much,” she said. “Now, its so special and so different that my family gets to watch me play.”

“It’s almost been a win-win.”

The season has yet to start and the mixture of excitement and expertise is showing through for the young softball player.

Comfortable at playing shortstop, Tyerman said she’ll play wherever her coaches need her to play, a reflection of her desire to offer leadership to her teammates and relationship she has with her new coaches.

Darren Bennett, who’s helped organize this new Heat team, coached Tyerman while she was with the Kelowna minor team. Bennett said that when they decided upon the team’s creation, Tyerman was the first player they thought of to join the roster.

“We anticipate her to be one of the cornerstones of our infield,” said Bennett.

“Shayla is a good ball player, but an even better person and I couldn’t be happier that she now has a second chance to be a student athlete.”

READ MORE: Heat womens soccer squad adds 6 new recruits ahead of 2019 season

Tyerman said there isn’t a way that softball ends for her. Whether it’s coaching or involvement with community teams, softball is something she’ll always be connected with.

Her mental strength and leadership are what’s important to her this season, but also enjoying the game that she’s been away from for so long.

“It goes by quick, you have to cherish the moments with teammates, because it’s a really great experience. Never going to take anything for granted either, just push myself and do the best that I can,” she said.

The Heat kick off the season with a four-games-in-two-days test against three Alberta teams starting Aug. 30.

In their first game of their inaugural season, UBCO will face the Calgary Dinos, last year’s conference champions.

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