Skyla Sykes’ journey has taken her from the West Coast to the Southeast by way of soccer. Now, she’s enjoying her third season of soccer at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette before she turns her attention to tackling a bigger challenge.
Sykes grew up in the San Diego area and before somehow ending up across the country in Louisiana for her college years. “Growing up, I would have never imagined finding myself in Lafayette, Louisiana for college, but turns out it was the perfect place for me,” Sykes told BGN. “It’s very different from San Diego, but I love the community and relationships I have built here.”
After registering zero goals or assists as a freshman in 2018, Sykes took a big step as a sophomore. She scored four goals and added two assists last season for the Ragin’ Cajuns. She explained, “A major factor contributing to my performance from my freshman year to my sophomore year was our new coaching staff. Under Lance (Key) and (Stephen) Salas, I was exposed to a new environment where I could translate the skills we practiced diligently to performing in games.”
“Going into this next season, the expectation to perform at high levels only grows, so I’m just looking to embrace that process; pushing myself and my teammates so that our team can compete at high levels.” Thus far, she has started every match for the squad and has one assist.
Skyla is not the only Sykes sister that can impress on the soccer pitch. “My oldest sister, Kyianna Sykes, recently graduated from Prairie View A&M University, where she played college soccer for some of her time there,” Skyla said. “My younger sister, Miaya Sykes, is a senior in high school who just verbally committed to play college soccer at Utah Valley University.”
With three talented soccer-playing sisters in the house, how competitive were the backyard matches? “Growing up, it was always fun to compete and practice with each other,” she said. “Often, our weekends consisted of going to tournaments and watching each other’s games, so it was really cool to have that support. Outside of soccer, we were just as competitive in any activity; though especially in Wii games.”
Skyla is also very driven outside of soccer with aspirations to become a lawyer, potentially involved in politics. Discussing why she might want to get into politics when there is such frustration with our current system, she said, “It can definitely feel discouraging looking at some aspects of politics that seem so much bigger than any one of us, but I have also found some solace in educating myself on political science.”
“I am fully devoted to the career path of law, and while I’m not sold on becoming a politician, it’s important to me to understand why our political system is the way it is, how it can be improved, and sharing that with those around me.”
The flaws in the political and justice system have been especially glaring this year with the high-profile killings by police of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the aftermath involved. With the ever-present systematic racism and police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement has been front and center to bring awareness to the issues and push for reform. “To me, Black Lives Matter means positioning myself in opposition to anything that perpetuates inequities and injustices that occur against the black community,” Skyla said. “As with many large scale issues, we as individuals can feel really helpless. I recently learned that affecting change begins with ourselves, and can go a long way when we spread it to those around us. To help push for racial equality, I try my best to spread awareness and educate people.”
Before she can change the world, she’s excited to enjoy this year of college life and soccer. “Going into my third year is very special for me because I am graduating early in December,” she said. “My attitude has definitely been one of gratitude in trying to cherish my last few months as a Cajun, and I really want this season to be a memorable one!”
After a 2-0 win over Louisiana Tech, Sykes and the Ragin’ Cajuns are back in action tomorrow as they host Texas State. Kickoff is set for 1 PM CT and the match will be live on ESPN+.