Sporting a Westwood volleyball tee-shirt and a knee brace, Westwood High School’s new coach Daylyn Harris could pass for one of the student athletes. Visit with this confident young woman for a few minutes, though, and it is clear that she is a competent educator ready to lead the Lady Panthers volleyball and basketball teams in 2019-2020.
Asked to define her strengths, Harris states, “I’m able to relate to the kids – there is not a large age gap. And I can build relationships. If you care about them, you can get anything out of them. I want the girls to see that you can work hard and have fun at the same time. That’s the recipe for success. We’re going to work hard, but we’re also gonna have fun. I’m excited, and ready to get my kids excited. My big thing is keeping us together as a team. We are all in this together, and we are going out there to battle.”
And the knee brace? Harris shrugs it off, almost embarrassed to admit that she is recovering from ACL surgery (her fourth), after getting banged up “trying to be young” playing a pickup game of hoops with her older brothers and their friends. This girl plays hard...
Miss Harris is from a family of athletes. Older brother Dustin Harris was a defensive back at Texas A&M, was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, and ended up playing in the Canadian Football League. Her next brother, Devion Harris, was on the Aggie’s SEC Championship track team and is among the university’s Top Fifteen of All Time in high jump history – clearing 7' 0-1/4”.
Daylyn Harris graduated from Livingston High School in 2011, where she played “every sport under the sun” – volleyball, basketball, tennis, softball, powerlifting and track, plus cheerleader. She went to State in high jump her freshman year, with a 5’7-1/2” jump to her credit.
After high school Harris played basketball at Stephen F. Austin University from 2011-15, during which time they won two Southland Conference titles. She was a shooting guard and small forward for the Ladyjacks, but insists that she is more defense-minded.
“My coaches put me on our opponent’s best player, and my job was to keep her from scoring. That was my role, and I embraced it,” said the 2013 Gary Blair Defensive Player of the Year.
Since her mother Linda was a coach, Daylyn had never envisioned herself following that career path, and she graduated in ’15 with a degree in Animal Science, planning to be a veterinarian. But her old high school coach, Pennee Hall, (“I love her to death”) was then deputy superintendent at Cleveland ISD, and asked Daylyn to come teach. “I never saw myself teaching or coaching until she gave me that opportunity – and I love it,” Harris said. “I’ve been doing this ever since and can’t see myself doing anything else.”
Harris added a Master’s Degree in Education from Texas A&M in May of 2018. That would have thrilled her father, Ronald, a Prairie View A&M alum who passed away in the fall of 2015, from colon cancer.
After two years as an assistant basketball and track coach at Cleveland, Harris went to Pasadena Memorial as assistant volleyball and basketball coach, and volunteered to mentor the high jumpers on the track team.
“After four years as an educator, I’m still excited, still anxious, still ready to learn,” Harris said. She will be teaching health at Westwood Middle School, along with her duties as head volleyball and head basketball coach.