Olympic Development Program selection brings about confidence in young player

Published 9:36 am Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tyra Prentiss spent the past soccer season playing with four of her cousins — Virgie Demby, Haleigh Erwin, Mikayla Banks and Madison Banks — with Vicksburg High’s girls team.

Although she’ll miss playing with her cousins after graduating in 2017, Prentiss has one more year to enjoy this familial aspect. It’s even made better by the fact that Prentiss and Mikayla Banks now share an impressive accomplishment.

Prentiss, as did Mikayla, received a selection to be a part of the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program. She found out about the selection when her cousin Michael Banks — Mikayla’s father — notified her when receiving the news about his daughter.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

In the process of trying out for the team, Prentiss allowed herself to have fun but was mostly scared due to not knowing how well she stacked up against other players.

“It was new people from everywhere in Mississippi. I did my best,” Prentiss said. “Competing against each other (was the scariest part). Even though I’m really good at that it was just scary because you have to see who’s going to be the best defender, midfielder and forward.”

As a defender, Prentiss’ main goal is to protect the goalkeeper. Through this experience she hopes to gain new skills and become a better defender. Mainly, Prentiss wants to be more agile and develop into a faster player on the field.

“On the field and off the field I should keep practicing,” Prentiss said.

Tryouts were also a physical grind for Prentiss, who said she cramped up from exertion for the first time. Mentally, she said she felt herself make mistakes, which caused her to lose confidence.

After Prentiss received word on her selection she calmed down and enjoyed her success. In July the selected members will scrimmage against one another in the presence of college scouts.

Initially, Prentiss wasn’t going to tryout for ODP for fear of people being better than her, but the encouragement of her family changed her mind.

“There’s always going to be somebody better than you that’s trying out, because they might have more experience than you, but you never know,” Prentiss said.

Prentiss’ timid and doubtful nature began during her time as a member of the Vicksburg Soccer Organization. Her mother Stacy Carter credits former VSO coach Maurice Gilliam with building her confidence on the field.

“He had a lot to do with pushing Tyra and telling Tyra she could do it,” Carter said. “Now since she’s got to Vicksburg High School she’s opened up and has been able to do what she has to do on the field. Tyra has come a long way.”

Carter added that her daughter isn’t the type who likes to lose or receive bad news. She routinely tells Prentiss that she can’t afford to doubt her skills or she won’t get far in life.

“You have to think you’re better than the next player and you have to give it your all,” Carter said.