Grovetown High School head track coach Rodney Tyson might find himself conflicted when the Region 2-AAAAA Region Championships are held at Grovetown beginning Tuesday, April 16.
With the shift in regions this year, Grovetown was placed in the same region as Greenbrier, where Tyson’s daughter Kayla is a standout senior sprinter for the Lady Wolfpack. In the past, it was mainly bragging rights on the line when the teams met at the annual Columbia County meet. But now the stakes are higher.
“With us being in the same region, it’s really tough because we’re going against each other quite a bit now,” said Tyson. “That’s my baby girl, that’s my daughter. I always want to see her do well, but we’re competing for a region title against them as well. So, that’s kind of a unique situation.”
For Kayla, who will attend the University of Louisville next fall, she’s just happy her father can see her run.
“Before, it was kind of upsetting he wasn’t able to come to my region meet because he had to go to their region meet,” said Kayla. “Now that we’re in the same region it will be good to have my dad there and my mom, not just my mom.”
She competed in the New Balance Nationals Indoor, March 8-10 in New York, finishing eighth in the country in the 60 meter dash and her father was able to go with her.
“It was a good support system, and just to have him there to experience it was really nice,” Kayla said.
The family moved to the area in 2001 and after 22 years of active duty, Tyson retired as a major from the U.S. Army in 2005. With Kayla, the family had lived at four different duty stations before Fort Gordon. When Grovetown High opened, Tyson was hired to start the JROTC program and he and his wife, Angie, decided to let Kayla stay in the Greenbrier pipeline.
“The major factor with it, honestly, we had moved so much while I was in the military, that we wanted her to be able to make friends, lasting relationships,” said Tyson. “She had grown up with all those kids over there. So we wanted her to stay there.”
Tyson’s son DJ, now a football player and runner at Howard University, ran at Grovetown his senior season, and Kayla remained loyal to the family.
“It really doesn’t bother me as much now, but it was kind of different when my brother ran for Grovetown,” said Kayla, who was a sophomore at the time. “When I’d cheer for him everybody would look at me like, why are you cheering for Grovetown?”
Tyson brags about his daughter to his team on occasion, and obviously they pay attention to him.
“Kayla will come back from time to time and she’ll tell me at the starting line, ‘your girls were talking to me and they were asking me, how do you do this, how do you do that? I see you’re moving your blocks this way.’ Just little technique things. She does come back and tell me they’re saying things like that.”
Ask how each team will do at the region meet, and their friendly competitive nature comes out.
“I think we’re going to do just fine,” said Kayla as her father starts to cough in the background, causing her to laugh.
“Greenbrier is a mature team,” Rodney said. “We’re developing but we’re going to give them some good competition.”