Nyka Wood and Hailey Roberts will go down as two of the greatest student-athletes ever to play at Tarleton State University. However, the two are not finished making an impact on the TexAnns sports program.
The duo are staying at Tarleton to study for their masters degrees and both are remaining in their respective sports - Wood in softball and Roberts in volleyball - as graduate assistant coaches.
"I want to become a college coach, and this is a good way to get in. Around the age of 15 I realized I wanted to do this for a living," Wood said.
"I'm excited about the different view, and I'm excited to help the girls," Roberts said, adding with a chuckle, "The first practice was a little weird, not being on the court. I was wondering how would they respect me as a coach, but they came to me and that felt great."
Unlike Wood, Roberts said she does not aspire to be a career coach. She wants to go into pharmaceutical sales.
Wood, who played catcher, was a four-time All-Lone Star Conference selection (twice first team), along with being a National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar-Athlete in 2017. She owns the all-time Tarleton records in games played (227), runs batted in (191), doubles (56), and sacrifice hits (49). She had a career batting average of .374 with 22 home runs and 382 total bases. She is also third on the all-time fielding putouts list (948).
Roberts was primarily an outside hitter, but her versatility moved her to a variety of spots on the court. She owns the school record for kills with 2,389 and for attack attempts with 5,51. She is second all-time in sets played (485), fourth in digs (1,505)
She was a seven-time All-American, including being the first American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American in program history in 2016, and was the 2016 Ron Lenz D2 Conference Coaches Association National Player of the Year. She was also a four-time first-team All-LSC selection, a two-time conference offensive player of the year winner, and was the league MVP in 2017.
"Because most of the kids have seen Hailey play, they know what she brings and they have tremendous respect for her," Tarleton volleyball coach Mary Schindler said. "I'm obviously thrilled. She's been a great player for us, and now she's helping us in another way."
As a player, Roberts led the TexAnns to their first four berths in the NCAA Tournament in the program's history, including three LSC championships in the past four seasons.
Roberts said her plans were initially to play professionally overseas. However, four shoulder surgeries forced her to change her plans.
"I have to get my masters, so I thought why not stay in the program and keep doing all I can to help?" she said.
Wood came to Tarleton as part of coach Mark Cumpian's first recruiting class and immediately made an impact, helping the team to its first regional championship and super regional appearance in program history. That was followed by two more regional tournament appearances with another regional championship appearance last year.
"I think she'll be an awesome coach. She grew up living and breathing the game," Cumpian said. "She's really softball savvy. So much of the game at this level is mental, and that's what she's great at.
"In 2015 (her freshman season), that wasn't our best team physically, but they were so mentally strong, and Nyka came in and was a big part of that. When you've got a player like Nyka, it brings in good recruits. They wanted to play with her then, and now they want to play for her as a coach."