There is no doubt Osakis’ Tia Dykema is good enough to play tennis at the collegiate level, but she wanted to make sure she stayed close to home.
“When I was little, I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do,” Dykema said. “As I got older, being closer to Osakis became more of a priority. I guess that made Moorhead stand out even more.”
Dykema signed to play tennis at the University of Minnesota-Moorhead after an incredibly successful high school career. Since she started playing at the high school level in seventh grade, she’s helped lead Osakis to multiple state tournament appearances while qualifying for state individually.
“Ever since I was little, my parents saw the love I have for tennis,” Dykema said. “I would go to camps and tournaments when I was younger. I think that developed into a passion as I got older and into high school. I got to be a part of a great team, and I got to be a leader. Ultimately, that’s what pushed me to continue my career past high school.”
MSU-Moorhead has an established girls tennis program in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Dykema said it was the history and the connections she made with the coaching staff that made her decision easy.
“They’ve had a great program throughout the years,” Dykema said. “I know that their previous coach, Oliver (Summers), built the program to what it is now. They did get a new coach this year, and I kind of know both of them. They’re both really great, knowledgeable coaches.”
For Dykema, her time in the classroom outweighed the time spent on the court.
“I’m looking at going into nursing,” Dykema said. “I know they have a new nursing program. I’m really excited to jump into that as well as playing tennis.”
Dykema considered other NSIC schools to play for in her recruiting process, but having a personal connection to Moorhead made it easy to put pen to paper.
“I looked at (Minnesota State University-Mankato) and the (University of Minnesota-Duluth), but Moorhead was just really appealing to me,” Dykema said. “I have family there as well, and my parents can come and support me with it being closer than other schools."
Dykema’s coaches have raved about her success on and off the court during her time with the Silverstreaks. Her leadership has helped elevate the program to state-wide recognition.
“My coaches have really pushed me to get to where I am today,” Dykema said. “I used to say that I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play college tennis, but my coaches always told me it was a possibility. One of my coaches told me that teams aren’t looking for perfection; they’re looking for something to work with and be coachable. That gave me the confidence to work for it. My teammates have pushed me, and it’s really great to have that support system.”
During her four years in Moorhead, Dykema hopes to emulate the same leadership for the Dragons that she exemplified for the Silverstreaks.
“Hopefully, I can take what I learned in high school and be a leader on that team,” Dykema said. “I know it’s a different atmosphere, but I want to be a leader at the collegiate level. I’m excited to see where it takes me.”