Dena Tyson is the daughter of legendary Corona Angels head coach Marty Tyson and is party of the “family business” as she currently coaches two Angels teams, one at 18U, the other at 16U, and has been a coach herself for over a decade.
She played at the University of Washington from 2002 to 2007 and was part of Husky teams that made the Women’s College World Series three times (2003, ’04 and ’07). As a senior, Dena was a 1st Team All-American and was selected to the WCWS All-Tournament Team.
Her final year in Seattle, she was named the team's MVP after leading the team in average (.399), home runs (18), RBI (50), walks (41), slugging percentage (.791) and on-base percentage (.536).
Having great insights into the sport and the players in it, Dena says:
“I have decided to start blogging to help my future softball players understand that we have all been there before! I think it’s time to get my story out there because maybe there is a ‘Dena’ out there that needs some words to get them on the right track, quicker than I did!”
“I have decided to give a little more back to the game because I believe it has shaped me into the woman I am today. In life, there are so many lessons to be learned but often times we miss the message.”
You can see Dena and her Angels teams in action the next two weeks at PGF Nationals…
Welcome to my first blog!
While I am writing my book about the road to becoming an All-American, I have decided to start a weekly blog. Originally, I was just going to surprise the world and randomly put on my social media, “Hey check out my book!”
However, an incident in Colorado at the IDT tournament this year made me start a blog.
Let’s just jump right into it...
BEING A TEAM PLAYER
I’m sure the title sounds corny but trust me, this isn’t what you think it is.
After both my teams were eliminated from the tournament, I went to watch my dad’s game. I, like everyone else, saw that there was another exciting game going on during ours.
From what I put together, a team came back in the last inning and won the game. And not just a comeback win, but a walk-off win! It was pretty exciting.
As I was looking around, I happened to see a player from the winning team crying hysterically. Originally, I thought, “Oh man, something bad must of have happened.”
However, about 10 minutes later I saw that she was still crying and my gut told me that something else was wrong. I kept debating whether to go talk to her or not, but something forced me to go talk to her.
I went up to her, introduced myself, and decided to give her some advice.
I said, “Honey, let’s talk. I have a feeling you need to hear this. There are scouts all over and if they happen to be looking at you, the first thing they are going to think is, "Wow, how selfish is this girl, crying after her team had a huge walk-off win."
I got to the bottom of it and determined that she was upset that she didn’t get to play. The advice I gave her was to either go cry in the car or the bathroom (lol!) so no one could see her.
The point of this blog is that you may see her crying as selfish, but you have to remember that we are emotional and we don’t play this game to sit the bench.
However, if you play for a team with more than nine players, then sitting the bench may be a reality…. especially in a game of failure. I kept my advice to her short, but my hope is that she will find this blog and get to read the detailed version of my story.
Like her, I had a Colorado during my sophomore year where I was not part of a big win, specifically the championship game. I just couldn’t find my swing and my coach knew it.
So during the tournament I was alternating with another player and starting every other game. And of course, with my luck, my game was the semi-final game, not the championship game.
Most of you know my father, Marty Tyson. I can remember going to the car after we won and he said two things that stuck with me:
First, “Big win without you.” Second, “You must stop being an interchangeable player and make it where he can’t take you off the field.”
That was the moment that planted the seed that made me an All-American. I can still remember at 35 years old word-for-word what he said. I made sure that whatever I did, I was in that starting lineup.
I didn’t leave teams or move to less-talented teams to ensure I was a starter. I put in the work and made sure that I was never an interchangeable player again!
This lesson from my dad was very important because that fight helped me during my career. I will tell you this for certain, You can't be an All-American if you don't play!
I will leave you with this: if you are on a team where you don’t play, and you are honest with yourself, you know you are probably under-performing and that’s just part of the game.
I challenge you to not quit the team, but to fight for your spot.
That will help you build the character you will need to become an All-American!