Degrate signing day

Waco High basketball star Tykayla Degrate and members of her family pose for a picture at her signing day Friday afternoon.

Staff photo — Krista Pirtle

It was a special moment inside Waco High’s gym on Friday morning.

As Tykayla Degrate signed her Letter of Intent to play basketball at Rainy River Community College in Minnesota with her family and friends all around her, Bervin Brown Jr. watched as his senior star took that next step to continue doing something she loves.

“As a coach, as a teacher, you want your kids to strive and go to that next level,” the Waco High coach said. “Tykayla really worked hard for me. This is my first year here at Waco High. Her and I, people if you didn’t know would think we didn’t get along. But our relationship is really pretty cool. I tell her all the time, no matter what or how mad I get at her, I’ll still take her next year in a heartbeat.”

Degrate didn’t average an eye-opening amount of points for the Lions last season.

But what she came up with on other parts of the stat sheet are jaw dropping.

Degrate was a rebounding machine with 12 boards per game while staking her claim to the lane with an average of six blocks per contest.

“I think it went better than my other season,” Degrate said. “I did contribute more to my team. … My high school career was challenging. My freshman year I expected to be on freshman. My sophomore year I was like expecting to be on JV. My junior year I had to really work hard to be on varsity. I had to work harder to keep my spot. Challenging is the perfect word.”

Now, Degrate gets ready to start the next chapter of her life in International Falls, Minnesota, which is 1,370 miles from Waco and a hop, skip and a jump away from Canada.

“I’m excited and nervous a little bit,” Degrate said. “I’m excited for playing basketball but nervous as in I’m going way off to play basketball. It’s a change of scenery. It’s an opportunity worth taking. So I’m going to take it.”

Rainy River Community College won the NJCAA Division III title back in 1995.

The Voyageurs went 9-18 last season.

“I don’t know how I’m going to catch a game up there, but one thing I have learned over years of coaching is they stream everything,” Brown said. “I’ll be following you. I’ll be talking to that coach.”

While Degrate is ready to play basketball at the next level, she’s not sure how she feels about the weather change.

On Friday, the high in Waco was 98 degrees. In International Falls, it was 71.

“I’m ready to see some snow,” Degrate said with a laugh. “I’m not ready for how cold the snow is.”

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