The great thing about Ayana Dyette is that she is very much a contrast of sorts. The Trinidad and Tobago national beach volleyball player balances her ‘tough-as-nails’ competitive spirit with her other entrepreneurial aspirations of a Fashionista. The story of this national athlete is one of highs and lows, where it is clear that Dyette has the natural ability and focus to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the highest level, but her inchoate feelings about the future of volleyball locally indicate that Dyette may just be on the cusp of retirement. Her humble beginnings in volleyball began at fifteen years old while attending Holy Name Convent. The versatile player succeeded at Club trials and soon moved on to the National Team. As with most volleyballers, she started the sport indoors where she played the position of Outside hitter and Middle. “With the National team we travelled extensively. I made the junior and senior teams for Caribbean Championships and we attended invitational tournaments. We’ve gone to Canada, Suriname, Mexico, Guyana and many other countries.”
Dyette soon earned a scholarship to attend Delaware State University where she majored in Business Management. According to her, the approach to the game overseas was totally different. “ It was very demanding because we would have to get up at 5:30am to reach the gym for 6am where we did a lot of weight training” she said. They also did intense workouts for endurance, hurdles and plyometric training. Dyette admitted that the coaching styles and techniques were also different, but she credited her seamless adjustment to the discipline instilled by her former coaches in Trinidad. For Dyette, the transition that she made as a young teen in the U.S. required that she took some time for her to adjust. “At first it was difficult because it was tough being away from home and adapting to a different culture. That was the most difficult part, but volleyball was something I loved so I enjoyed it” she admitted. Through her rigorous training at the college level, she had the opportunity to play competitively in many interstate competitions. However, the balance of school and obligations to indoor volleyball became overwhelming. “It became too demanding after awhile. I sustained a lot of injuries and I played outside hitter so I was always the go-to person. I was also a senior with a tremendous work load,” said Dyette.
After retiring from the indoor version of the game in 2006, she decided to explore beach volleyball after moving back home in 2008. Her breadth of experience at university made it easier for her to earn a spot on the National team which has since become her full time job. “ In 2009 I travelled with my partner from January to December participating in the Norceca tours in the Cayman Islands, Guatemala and Mexico to name a few,” she said. Dyette and her partner also made it to the third stage of Olympic qualification in Costa Rica in 2011 where they were eventually knocked out. Since then she has continued to participate in international tournaments accumulating points to qualify for the Pan American Games and other elite competitions.
When asked about her experience as a travelling national beach volleyaballer, Dyette is honest. “I am thinking of retiring because we really go off of our natural talent. We do pretty okay but we need support” she laments. “Coming off of the training that I had at university I have developed certain expectations where succeeding in the sport is concerned” Dyette added. According to the professional volleyballer, there is a need to have local developmental programs since Dyette and her partner comprise the main travelling team at a national level but there is a dire need for replacement players. Dyette also laments the lack of a regular stipend for national players and access to proper resources to train consistently and progress at an international level. Uncertain about her future in the sport at the national level, Dyette also has developed entrepreneurial pursuits in the fashion arena. “I love clothes and shoes and I would like to have my own business selling clothes-one of a kind item” the Fashionista said enthusiastically. Undoubtedly, only time will tell the way forward for Ayana Dyette as a professional beach volleyballer. Notwithstanding, with a solid academic background in tow and a passion for fashion, one may not be surprised to see Dyette churning out the hottest styles as her own retailer or one day setting world records in beach volleyball at the Olympic level.