Dawna Tyson learned the importance of hard work at a young age.
“When I was eight, my sister Dom made the softball team, but I didn’t,” Tyson said. “After that, I worked and worked so nobody would have any other choice but to put me on their team.”
Tyson has come a long way from that eight-year-old girl. So far in fact that many colleges came calling, wanting desperately for Tyson to join their team.
“My recruiting began when I was in eighth grade, and I used to move up and play with the older girls like Tatum and Taylor (Edwards),” Tyson said. “My first recruiting memory would have to be when I saw Oklahoma in the stands, and I couldn’t breathe.”
She also noticed that the Nebraska coaches were spending more and more time at her games. Tyson was anxious to learn more about the Husker program, and lucky for her, she had close ties to the team.
“I considered Nebraska as an option when I saw my sister (Tori) here, and then I heard words from the (Edwards) twins to secure it,” Tyson said. “I knew for sure I wanted to go to Nebraska when Coach (Rhonda) Revelle and Coach (Diane) Miller were very persistent trying to get me, and I loved that a lot.”
One of the things Tyson heard about Nebraska that sealed her decision was the passion of Husker fans.
“The fans are unbelievable,” Tyson said. “I could go to a basketball game, and they’re still noticing me and asking about the season. We have the best fans in the nation.”
Tyson especially appreciates the fans inside the friendly confines of Bowlin Stadium.
“I love the atmosphere,” she said of the Huskers’ home field. “I get a certain happiness when I hear a fan say my name like ‘Dawna, let’s go, you can do it! I get goosebumps just talking about it.”
While the fans played a role in Tyson’s decision to become a Husker, it was ultimately her relationship with the coaching staff that made her choose Nebraska.
“They care about you like they’re your parents, and you can tell them absolutely anything without any judgment,” she said.
Raised by a Softball Dad
It’s no surprise that Tyson would be drawn to a program where the coaches care about their players like they are their own kids. After all, Tyson is a coach’s daughter. Her father Marty is one of the most well-known and respected travel ball coaches in the country. He has helped build the Corona Angels into one of the nation’s top travel programs.
Along the way, he coached each of his four daughters, including Dawna, the youngest. But just because Dawna was the baby of the family, doesn’t mean Coach Marty took it easy on her.
“My dad was hard on me, but it kept me on the course,” Dawna said. “I don’t know what type of player I would have been without him.”
Marty told Dawna since she was little that she could play Division I softball if she worked hard every day. Some days Dawna didn’t want to hear that message, but she says if she could talk to her younger self, she would offer some simple advice.
“Listen to the message, not the tone, of what your dad is telling you because he is setting you up for success.”
And success followed. Tyson became a four-time all-league selection for Corona High School. She earned invites to the adidas Futures Top-100 and the West Coast All-Stars National Elite-64 Futures camps. In her first season at Nebraska, Tyson batted .264 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 29 starts, helping the Huskers win the first NCAA Super Regional in school history and advance to the Women’s College World Series for the seventh time.
Tyson is poised for an even larger role this season, when she is the leading candidate to be Nebraska’s starting designated player, a spot she split with All-Big Ten selection Courtney Breault last season.
“We are looking for Dawna to impact our offense this season and be someone who will drive in runs and additional punch to our deep lineup,” NU Head Coach Rhonda Revelle said. “We also look for Dawna’s leadership and spirit to lead us in the locker room and on the field.”
Tyson is playing Division I softball just like her dad predicted, and while Marty was a big influence in that accomplishment, Dawna credits the whole family for her making it this far.
“My family has been my main supporters since day one,” she said. “My sisters have all been through the process but are still by my side as I go through it. My dad is one heck of a guy. I am happy he stayed on me and showed me all the ways to be successful and today my dad is still by my side, one phone call away. He keeps me balanced and tell me the things I need to hear, not the things I want to hear. Also my mom, she has been my rock through the good and the bad. She has been my No. 1 fan through this whole journey from 10-and-under to now.”
Tyson Sisters Star in Softball Family
Softball has always been a family affair for the Tysons. Dawna is the youngest of the four Tyson sisters, all of whom have been active on the softball scene. Dena, the oldest, starred at Washington from 2004 to 2007, earning first-team All-America honors as a senior. Tori spent three seasons as a pitcher and outfielder for the Huskers from 2008 to 2010, before an injury forced her to miss her final season in 2011. Dominque played softball through high school.
“I looked up to my sister Dena,” Dawna said. “She was such a great player and hitter. I was kind of obsessed with her.”
It was somewhat of a natural obsession, given the family’s involvement in the sport of softball. If there was a “first family” for elite travel programs, the Tysons would have to be one of the top families considered for that title. Marty founded the Corona Angels program in 1998 because he wanted to keep local, talented players in the Inland Empire instead of the players having to travel to Orange County. He has been the head of the Angels’ organization for more than 15 years, currently serving as the 18-and-under Gold Team head coach and the younger 14-and-under team head coach.
All four Tyson sisters played in the organization and two have joined Marty in coaching an Angels team. Dena coaches the 16-and-under and 12-and-under teams in the Angels organization, while Dominique coaches the younger 12-and-under team. The unsung hero of the family is mom Donna.
The family emphasis on the point aided in Dawna’s development, according to Revelle.
“Dawna comes from a softball family and being the youngest of four, she has spent her whole life at the ballpark,” Revelle said. “Dawna understands what it takes to be a highly successful team. From talent and training, to chemistry and unity.”
One day Dawna herself may even coach in the Angels’ organization, as she eyes a future career where she can help people.
“I see myself going overseas a couple of years to just study people and get a different feel on things,” she said of her plans after college. “Then come back to the states and be a counselor or something that helps people through hard situations.”
Giving people the means to better themselves – whether it be through counseling or coaching – would simply be Dawna continuing the Tyson family tradition.
Three Things You Didn’t Know About Dawna
1) She loves to go places with water and just sit and watch.
2) She used to be obsessed with sewing.
3) She has a million different laughs.