May 05, 2021
By Justin Hartojo
Runnin’ with Raema Lyda
VYPE: What was your goal last year?
LYDA: My goal last year was just to improve as a team and get closer. We ended up going to Regionals and we had one person go to State.
VYPE: What was that like to see all that hard work payoff?
LYDA: It was amazing. We get out here early in the morning and we spend so much time running. Running is such a mental sport. Just being able to work together and go to Regionals was just phenomenal. Seeing our hard work pay off and everything come together, including our freshman, was really rewarding.
VYPE: How did you get into the sport?
LYDA: Originally, I never ran. I wasn’t a runner. I play soccer and do track, and my coaches were like ‘Just try cross country’. I joined it and it is one of my favorites.
VYPE: When did you start playing soccer?
LYDA: I started playing soccer when I was very young. I only played soccer until my freshman year, and then I joined two other sports. It’s been my main sport my entire life. I lived somewhere else before and soccer was the only sport they had. My whole family plays, so it was just a family thing.
VYPE: What do you outside of sports?
LYDA: I’m in several clubs – Student Council, INTERACT, NHS and Cardinals for Christ – and I am pursuing cosmetology.
VYPE: What do you want your legacy to be?
LYDA: I just want to be known as a leader. Someone who people could look to and tell that she really gave everything. She put her heart into it. She was someone that gave everything they could and made a difference in the school and the world.
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By Justin Hartojo
A TEAM’S TONE IS SET BY ITS SENIORS.
The Willis volleyball team has a trio of strong-minded seniors, each with strengths that complement the others. Setter Savannah Paskeis a social ball of energy, who keeps it light and fun. Libero Lakin Horne sees the game from an intellectual perspective as a member of the National Honor Society. Taylor Hayes is the freak athlete in the middle, who can jump out of the gym on the block or hammer a point to the floor.
ON HER FUTURE: My goal is to get recruited to play in college. I want to earn a degree in Kinesiology and have a career in sports medicine, physical therapy or complementary medicine (chiropractor). I could see myself as a coach because I understand the game. But, more importantly I understand what happens outside the game.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE AS A SENIOR? You need to focus on yourself first. It’s a lot harder to please everybody else, than just yourself. Don’t let everyone else’s opinions dictate your career. Also, being a successful leader is understanding that everyone on your team is different. All of those differences can make a team successful.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SHOW ON NETFLIX? Stranger Things
WHAT IS YOUR HYPE SONG? El Chapo
WHAT WOULD YOUR SUPER POWER BE? Time Travel. I’d love to go back in time to fix some of my mistakes.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT? Salata
WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN 10 YEARS? I’m married with a family and working in our family insurance business. You need an Umbrella Policy?
ON HER VOLLEYBALL JOURNEY: My sister played a few years back and got me into it. Volleyball was a challenge for me and I wasn’t that good at first. I like to see my improvement over the years and that ’s really why I stuck with it.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF VOLLEYBALL? I run varsity track – the 100, 200 and sprint relays. It really helps my quickness and footwork in volleyball.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU? I used to be a barrel-racer when I was growing up in Pampa, Texas. I work out with a trainer every day and I want to be a Realtor when I get older.
HOW DO YOU BUILD CHEMISTRY? You need some inside jokes with your teammates. You have to be bonded from previous activities. Last year, we went to San Antonio. Me and my roommate competed against other rooms in a dance battle. It’s the sleepovers, team dinners and hang outs that build chemistry.
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LIFE IS COMING FAST FOR LAMAR CONSOLIDATED SENIOR BROOKE MORRIS.
Homecoming. Prom. Finals. Graduation. It felt like only yesterday when Morris was watching her senior teammates depart high school for the next chapter in life.
And, now, here she is.
“It’s a bunch of mixed emotions,” Morris said. “It’s such a big, important year. Not only dealing with volleyball, but also with college and finding a school, signing day… it’s a lot coming at once and I still feel like a junior. I feel like we just finished the season and now it’s here again.”
Last year, Morris helped the Mustangs to the Area playoffs. As a setter and right-side hitter, she totaled 189 assists, 140 digs, 61 kills and 22 aces and was a first team, all-district selection.
However, she vividly remembers the disappointment of another season ending in the second round of the postseason. Again. And now she gets one final chance to push the program as far as she thinks it can go.
No matter what happens for the Mustangs this season, Morris will be front and center.
“I’m expecting to be a leader,” she said. “My coach is expecting a lot from me. She wants me to be that voice, be that senior that can lift a team and tell them what needs to be done and how. It’s kind of nerve wracking.
“But I know this is my team. I need to show out and bring my teammates together, especially the younger girls. We want to win. For the past three years, we’ve gone to the second round of the playoffs but we’re trying to go farther than that.”
Morris loves being a setter. Most leaders do.
She loves to control the offense. She relishes teammates looking to her for guidance and coaches trusting her to run the team.
Since she started playing volleyball when she was 11, Morris has always been a setter. It was a natural fit. Meticulous, conscientious and detail-oriented, she welcomed the responsibility that came with a prominent role.
“I like how I get to bring the team together,” Morris said.
A confident, poised young lady who knows who she is and what she’s about, Morris credits her parents, Barbara and Allen, for her makeup.
When Morris was 15 years old, talks with them and her coaches helped her understand she could not afford to get down or hang her head as a setter. As a leader.
So, she developed a counter to adversity. Whenever times get tough during a game, Morris wipes off the bottom of her shoes and stares out into the distance somewhere to reset herself. Mind, body and spirit.
“They’re always hard on me, always strict on me,” Morris said of her parents. “In this world, you have to be strong and confident in everything you do. They’ve taught me to make sure I’m doing everything I have to do to be the best.”
Morris wants to play college volleyball.
“That’s the dream,” she said.
But she doesn’t necessarily care to play for the biggest name or under the brightest of lights. She wants to play for an HBCU, a historically black college and university.
“It’s important, being a black, female athlete,” Morris said. “There’s this idea, you know, that maybe I wouldn’t fit at bigger schools, but there are some really good HBCU schools. I feel like black, female athletes being at one school is a really great thing.”
Strong and confident reasoning. The Morris way.
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