Dykes helps fuel Lady Cyclones' success

By Kim Richardson
STAR Correspondent

   She was very young when her trek into survival training began. While on a picnic at Carden's Bluff Campground she became fascinated by the circular patterns caused by the fish swimming just beneath the surface.
   The intrigued little girl decided to have a try, and after finding some fishing line left behind by a fisherman of previous days or months, then a rusty fish hook put there, no doubt by the same means, the little girl was ready to fish.
   Well almost. First she had to dig and then dig some more, until she finally captured a reluctant, potential meal to offer to her potential meal. She hooked the worm and cast out and lo and behold a nibble, then a bite and another until suddenly......
   ......"Look Mom what I caught all by myself," she exclaimed, nearly breathless as she raced to her mother with the little, hooked bluegill in hand and a big smile on her face. "If I were lost in the woods I'd never starve; I'd survive, wouldn't I?" Nothing puerile about this 5-year-old fisher.
   The little survivor is now all grown up and a senior at Elizabethton High School. To this point she not only has survived but appears poised for remarkable prosperity.
   Tayna Dykes is studious but not pedantic; introspective modest and intelligent. Add artistic -- she's won competitions at the Boys and Girls Club of Elizabethton -- poetic and athletic to the mix and a strong willed, student athlete comes into focus. She plays basketball for the Lady Cyclones, the newly crowned champions of District 1-AA!
   "Tanya is a three-year starter who has worked so hard on her overall game, especially offense," said Lady Cyclones head coach Mike Wilson.
   "She brings so much energy and that's important to our success."
   Both her parents were in the U. S. Army. Edith -- prefers "Edie" (ee-dee) -- Andrade and Ken Dykes met in Fort Riley, Kansas. When Edie was discharged after three honorable years of service, she accompanied her then still-enlisted husband to Schweinfurt, Germany where soon afterward little Tanya was introduced to the world.
   Several years before, Tanya's father was born in Carter County to Ken and Nancy Dykes. Nancy is now married to Al Whirledge, whom Tanya calls "Grandpa." Al and Nancy can be seen at nearly all of Tanya's games.
   Tanya is of olive complexion, received from Edie, granted her through her parents Daniel and Isaura Andrade, both full-blooded Portuguese who migrated to the United States and settled in Chelsea, Massachusetts, where Edie was born. Two of Tanya's uncles, David and Adam, live in the New England area while Daniel Jr. resides in Germany.
   Now Edie Dykes -- third-born of the four Andrade siblings -- serves in a different capacity. She's a fire management specialist with the Cherokee National Forest Service.
   "When not fighting fires I start them, or at least simulate starting them," Edie said. "We call them prescribed burns; this helps us with coordination and methods when the real thing happens."
   Ken attended East Tennessee State University where he majored in art. He's also very skilled in the woodworks craft and builds pipe organs. But now he lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
   "It's sometimes difficult being so far away," he said. Ken and Edie's marriage ended a few years back, but he and Tanya are very close. "We talk all the time on the phone," he said. "I'm very proud of Tanya, that's for sure. I really miss getting to watch her play."
   Tanya's 20-year old sister, Angela, who works at King's Coffee Shop in Johnson City, said, "She's talented and self-driven. I think she's ambitious and determined enough to be successful."
   So who does Tanya look up to in sports and in life?
   "My entire family," she said. "My dad and I talk a lot on the phone and I see him whenever possible, which means a lot; and of course mom.
   "Also, my best friend, Lacy Lane. She set such a great example of how to work hard, both in practice and in the games."
   Lacy thinks just as highly of Tanya.
   "She works so hard, for sure," said Lacy. "It's so nice to see her and the Lady Cyclones win the district. She's a very good athlete and great person."
   Then there are the Portuguese grandparents in Massachusetts.
   "We all get together every other year in Chelsea," Edie said. "I've also been to their birth place on the Cape Verde Islands off the western coast of Africa. It's beautiful there but still very much a Third World country. They had to endure a lot there and then it was very difficult getting to the United States. They worked hard so we could be raised in the United States."
   So what's next?
   "We really want to do well in the regional," Tanya said. "It's been great, playing for EHS. We want to keep this season going. We really came together as a team against Unicoi. Everyone was really hustling, playing to win. It's great to finally beat them; they're such an outstanding team.
   Any college plans?
   "Absolutely, but exactly where I end up going isn't set in stone," she said.
   How about college basketball?
   "Not sure, but I've been entered to play this summer for Tri-Star Sports, so we'll see how it goes," said Tanya.
   Tanya will "survive" the college search process in fine order, and the "Little Preacher," as she was called by her mom because she was never hesitant to voice her opinion when her friends used profanity, will move on.
   "As a 7-year-old she intended to let her teacher know what she thought about the 'Big Bang' theory in school," Edie said. "Look at me, mom; how could I come from mud and an explosion? Only God could make me."
   Tanya is a devout Christian and even writes much of her poetry about her relationship with and admiration for God.
   Tanya Dykes should know that she's made her family here and abroad very proud. "She's asked for so little. She is tender hearted, forgiving and Christian," said her mother, who added, "God has my soul, but Tanya is my heart."