When Winona State University hosted its athletic awards banquet Tuesday night, Tayla Card expected to be in the spotlight. The junior was part of the student athletic committee hosting the event and had to introduce some of the awards on stage. What she didn’t expect was to hear her name called as the recipient of one of those awards.
The 2016 Hutchinson graduate and Warriors women’s tennis player was named the female recipient of the Hometown Hero Award, which is given to the student athlete who accumulates the most volunteer hours from last May to this April.
“I knew with all the opportunities that I did that there was a chance (to get the award),” Card said, “but there is a lot of other athletes that volunteer just as much, so I was pretty surprised.”
Others may volunteer, but not quite as much as Card. She said that the male athlete who won the award told her he volunteered 30 hours. Card notched 194 hours of volunteer work.
Among the different activities she volunteered for was coaching 12U summer softball in Hutchinson. In the fall she often volunteered in booths at Winona State football games. The elementary education major also spent time in local schools helping with math and reading activities.
She said the university has an app to help keep track of volunteer hours which it made it easy for her to find new opportunities where she could give her time.
“It was just something I was going to do anyway,” Card said. “It’s just something that I like to do. Once I do it, I put it in (the app) to keep track of it so I know for my resume and getting a job what things I did and for how long.”
One of the biggest challenges for Card was balancing her full-time school workload, athletic career and volunteer hours.
“It is very hard to do,” Card said, “because I knew every gap I had between a class or something I was volunteering for, I needed to get my homework done. Or … right after practice it was time to go somewhere and get something done. I did a lot of my volunteering on the weekends, which helped. … I just think it really helped me manage my time, because I didn’t have a lot of it, for sure.”
Between her school and volunteering, Card helped Winona State’s women’s tennis team to a 9-8 overall record this spring. She played at the No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles spots, going 11-5 in singles and 10-7 in doubles. She was also the lone women’s tennis player to win athlete of the week for the Warriors.
When it came time Tuesday to accept the award for her hard work, though, Card was still shy to step into the public eye.
“I was very excited,” she said. “I was also just very nervous to go on stage in front of all the student athletes in the school. … I didn’t have to give a speech for accepting the award, thank goodness.”
The junior will have a chance to notch more hours moving forward as she continues her passion for spending time in the community. When she returns to Hutchinson this summer, she anticipates that she will again spend her time as a volunteer softball coach. At her current pace, she may again see her work honored with the award next spring.
“I just like to volunteer in the community, so whenever those opportunities come up, I really enjoy participating in them,” Card said. “It’s definitely something I’ll continue to do.”