A Road Well Traveled: Ross Verbally Commits to N.C. State
Union Pines’ Tyler Ross recently made a verbal commitment to attend North Carolina State University as a scholarship player for the Wolfpack softball team.
Although the act itself was a simple phone call by Ross to her future head coach, what it symbolized was the realization of a lifelong family dream coming to fruition.
“Knowing that I will be playing softball in college is something that I have always wanted to do since my dad introduced me to the game,” Ross said, “but knowing that I’m going to be playing for N.C. State gives me butterflies every time I think about it.
“I have wanted to go to this school ever since I was a little girl. Being able to play the sport that I love and go to my dream school is an opportunity and an honor that not many people get.”
Currently deep into her junior season as a co-captain of the Lady Viking basketball team, Ross has been a three-sport standout at Union Pines since arriving on the scene as a freshman. While she has starred in every sport she has played, her most dominating displays have come on the softball field.
Upon completing her sophomore season, Ross was named to the 2011 MaxPreps Sophomore All-American softball team. She also earned second-team All-American honors for schools with enrollments of less than 2,000 students.
Last season Ross was named the North Carolina Softball Coaches Association 3-A East Player of the Year and District 4 3-A Player of the Year. On the year she batted .589 with 37 runs, 29 RBIs, five doubles and seven home runs. She also won 10 games as a pitcher and stole 42 bases to claim her second straight Cape Fear Valley Conference Player of the Year award.
As a freshman, Ross went .636 with the stick, tallying four home runs, while stealing 45 bases. On the mound she pitched three no-hitters and finished with a record of 10-2. Despite all the success, her recent commitment to play ball at State served to allay a great deal of stress she had been coping with to succeed at the highest level.
“I feel like a huge load has been lifted off my shoulders now,” said Ross. “With getting the pressure off about getting into college to play softball, now I can really focus on my grades, perfecting my game and working on my technique to help with the next level of ball, as well as to help my high school career.
“This has been my dream ever since I was around the age of 10. It started back when I went to a basketball camp and I just loved myself some Kay Yow (the late N.C. State women’s basketball coach). I thought that maybe one day I would want to go there to play basketball. Shortly after that I started to become attached to the game of softball and I figured that if I kept working that I could hopefully someday go to that school.”
Selecting N.C. State
Although Ross has always loved State and been a huge Wolfpack fan she still had to make sure the school was the right fit for her before she finally decided to make the commitment to enroll there as a scholarship student-athlete.
“The thing that sealed the deal for me was that that the coaching staff at State showed a great interest in my skills and wanted me to go there so that I could help with their program. Also, the campus atmosphere played a role in the decision, along with getting to know the (other) girls on the softball team. They seemed very friendly when I went on my unofficial visit.
“They gave me a good offer to go to the school, I have always wanted to go there and I couldn’t turn it down.”
As a result, on Jan. 11 she made a call to N.C. State head coach Lisa Navas.
“I called Coach Navas around 10 p.m. that night,” said Ross. “I was lying down in my parents’ room with them and my little sister, Tyne, and I told her (Navas) that I would be delighted and honored to come to N.C. State to play for her program.”
Ross’ mother, Tron Faulk, literally jumped for joy immediately after the short telephone conversation ended.
“As only I would do in our family,” said Faulk, “I started jumping up and down and screaming, ‘You did it, you did it’ — emotions and thoughts flooded through my head. All I could think about were all those weekend trips, all those days practicing and batting in the backyard, all of the people who helped us and how happy I was that Tyler was going to the school she has always dreamed of.”
Tyrone Ross, Tyler’s father and Tron’s husband, was deeply involved in his daughter’s decision-making process and as a parent found several facets of N.C. State and its softball program appealing.
“The courtship between N.C. State and Tyler began back in September,” he said. “I was very excited to learn that they were interested in her abilities. When Tyler began playing softball I felt she had the tools to be a good player. All the practice time she has put in, whether in the backyard or anywhere else, I feel it has truly paid off for her.
“There have been times she would work out and I would tell her that if she wanted something bad enough she had to work for it because no one was going to give her anything. Tyler grew up saying she wanted to play basketball for N.C. State and legendary coach Kay Yow. However, playing softball at the school were Coach Yow coached for so many years is a great consolation prize.”
Sacrifice and Reward
Ross and both her parents all admitted the road leading to this event has been a long one paved with dedication, lots of practice and a sense of family unity in working together for a common purpose.
Tron and Tyrone are fixtures at Union Pines’ sporting events. Tron keeps all the stats for basketball and is the official scorer for softball, while Tyrone never misses a game or the chance to retrieve every ball his daughter blasts over the fence for a home run.
“Our journey to this point has been one of great sacrifice and great reward,” said Tron. “When most families took vacations in the summer, we were at the softball field. Between pitching lessons, practices and road trips, there wasn’t much time for Tyler to have sleepovers and parties with friends. Tyne (her younger sister) came along for the ride.
“We had to make tough decisions about the teams Tyler played on and the distances we had to practice and play. But I wouldn’t take anything for the experiences that we have had, the relationships we have developed and the opportunities that have come our way. This is a special time for our family and we thank God for this chance for Tyler.”
Tyrone, who was inducted into the Union Pines Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007, echoed the sentiments of his spouse when discussing his daughter’s decorated past and bright future
“Tyler has truly been blessed,” he said, “and for her to be able to continue her education and softball career at N.C. State is a dream come true not only for her, but for me and all of her family as well. The ACC is a top-notch conference for softball and for Tyler to be recognized by the coaching staff at N.C. State is such an honor for her.”
Pride and Gratitude
Both of Tyler’s parents are extremely proud of their daughter and her many outstanding accomplishments, including this most recent one.
“What makes me most proud of Tyler is what a good person she is,” said Tron. “She has always been expected to do well and she has always been pushed to realize her potential. Having talent and working hard is not always easy. It has always seemed like Tyler has had a bull’s-eye on her back. But despite that, she believes in people, sees the good in people, wants to help others, wants to see others do well and she is giving and unselfish.
“I would like to thank all of the people who have supported Tyler through her development. From tee ball with Jeremy Hall to baseball with Jeff Collins to softball with Randy Calcutt at Union Pines and Craig Goodnight highlighting her accomplishments, we are thankful.”
Tyrone Ross admitted that he is “one proud papa.”
“Tyler has had a lot of support during her quest to reach this goal,” he said. “I would like to thank all those who have wished her well from early on and gave her words of encouragement.
“Many times I do reminisce of days gone by when I was a student-athlete at Union Pines when I try to get her to excel past her competition. But then reality sets in and I have to realize that Tyler is a far better student-athlete than I ever was. She is probably the best I’ve seen in a long while and I’m just glad she has been recognized for it. Now she can relax and enjoy her next two high school softball seasons and have fun in the process. I’m happy that she will be able to do that.”
Throughout her athletic career, there is one thing Ross has often turned to for solace.
“I always think about this scripture through many obstacles in my life: Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me,’” said Ross
Ross’ thank-you list was an expansive one, as she pointed to coaches of traveling softball teams like Craven Hold, Wayne Way, Charlie Brooks, Cori Towery, Ricky Martinez, Robert Hayes and Cynthia Hayes that have helped along the way.
But most of all, she was thankful for the support of her family.
“I would like to thank my mom for taking time out of her job to drive me out of town and out of state throughout the weeks and weekends to softball tournaments as well as clinics
“I would like to thank my dad for introducing me to this game and always pushing me because it has helped me to reach my goal. And for taking time out to pitch or hit with me for countless hours throughout the day.
“I would like to give a shout out to my Grandma Gertie. Even though she isn’t physically here with me I know that she is always looking over me and that she would be very proud of my achievements. And that I love and appreciate her for always telling me to go outside and play around with my bat and ball.
“Also I have to give a special thanks to my little sister, Tyne, for always going up and down the road with me to these softball tournaments, when she could be relaxing and having her own fun. But I’m pretty sure that later on she is going to be traveling up and down the road as well to fulfill her dreams.
“I hope that she will have these same opportunities I have had, and will be the best that she can be.”
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
More like this story