By Esteban Ramirez
As the ball kissed off the glass and went through the net, fans in the Icardo Center erupted in cheers. Tyonna Outland had just broken CSUB’s all-time scoring record for women’s basketball.
The next day Outland witnessed her high school jersey being retired at Lynwood High in Compton, Calif.
However, the journey to get there wasn’t an easy one for her.
“It was really difficult,” Outland said on growing up in Compton, Calif. “I didn’t really have a stable home because my mom was a single parent, so we didn’t stay in places long.”
Outland had to live with her grandmother and also had to live in Las Vegas.
She added she didn’t really have any role models, and when she started to have brothers and sisters, she decided she would be a role model for them. Her determination and motivation became different.
While her peers busied themselves with other activities, Outland was usually playing at a gym or a park.
“I would hop fences to just shoot,” she said. “It was really hard growing up there, but it made me the person I am now: strong and hard working.”
Outland added that her mother has always been supportive of her playing basketball.
“I saw that it made her proud–I never really had a father growing up but I saw that this was one thing that would make her happy and I gained a lot of support.”
Outland said she really liked having that support, especially from her mom and it was a dream of hers to see her smile.
“It was really difficult with my mom being a single mom. There were times when I was homeless. It was really hard, so I was just trying to find out ways to be able to make a living and to have my school paid for.”
Outland said she didn’t start playing organized basketball until her freshman year in Lynwood High School when her coach, Ellis Barfield, saw her play at a park.
“At first it just started as something fun, and then I found out I was pretty good at it and I enjoyed it,” she said. “It brought out a side of me that I didn’t know I had like aggressiveness, and I fell in love with it.”
Outland helped the Lynwood High Knights to three league championships and was named league Most Valuable Player in her senior year. When the time came to decide on which collegiate team she would play for she decided to stick with the school that stuck with her.
“I hurt my knee and CSUB was one of the only schools that stayed with me in the recruiting process,” Outland said. “Everybody else was either letting me down or didn’t seem interested, and they broke down my game and told me why they wanted me here. Also my step-dad was suffering from Epilepsy, so I wanted to stay close to him and to my mom to make sure she was fine.
“It meant a lot and that they cared. That they weren’t just looking out for me to use me on the court, but they cared about me being a student athlete not just an athlete.”
Outland had a breakout season last year as she averaged 20.7 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game. She has carried that over to this season as she is averaging 18.9 points per game and five rebounds per game and has helped CSUB (14-6, 2-2 Western Athletic Conference) to be tied for third in the conference.
She said that some of her goals are still to help the ’Runners win the Western Athletic Conference title, to one day get drafted to the WNBA and to be the school’s all-time leading scorer, which she was able to achieve on Jan. 22 against the University of Missouri-Kansas City when she passed Katie McElree.
“It means a lot,” she said. “It just shows me that hard work pays off. All of the gym time and everything paid off. I always dreamed about it. I want to be the leading scorer, I want to do this and I want to do that, but there were doubts in my mind that that is kind of impossible and where do I start at. When I stopped worrying about where I start it and just started taking action and doing things, it started to happen.”
Tyonna’s mother, Tonia Outland-Irby, said that she is very proud of her daughter.
“I’m just so full of joy,” said Tonia. “I just don’t know which way to go, I don’t know what to do but it truly is a blessing because my daughter deserves everything she has done. It truly is a blessing to be here and to see my daughter accept this award and make history. I’m more than happy, I am overjoyed.”
On Jan. 23, Tyonna went back to Lynwood High to witness her jersey being retired.
CSUB coach Greg McCall shared in the sentiment.
“There are a lot of teams that have good players and we have Ty,” McCall said. “She has taken so much on her shoulders and sacrifices, and everything she has right now she definitely deserves. She is a special player, and to me she is the best player in CSUB’s history.”
Tyonna has already earned her bachelor’s associate degree in criminal justice and is working to get her master’s degree in public administration.
She added that when her collegiate basketball career is over she envisions herself going to the WNBA, playing overseas and getting into her career of being an administrator.