Tom Batters
Shyla Nott was an all-conference volleyball player last year as a junior.

Shyla Nott’s grandfather, who owns a farm in Lewistown, occasionally needs help cleaning the combine, and getting some other chores done.

Unlike many high school seniors, who might roll their eyes and dread the thought of spending a summer day on a farm, Nott smiles and says, “I love it out there. It’s a lot of fun. And, if he needs help, I'll be there.”

The farm, and any work that might go along with it, are Nott’s sanctuary from her hectic schedule, which includes summer basketball games, practices, open gym volleyball sessions, beach volleyball games, and umpiring youth softball leagues.

Taking a break from sports is not an option, though

Nott, the senior who plays varsity volleyball, basketball and softball at Richwoods, said she wants to improve at each sport, which means plenty of hard work.

“I’ve been playing sports since I was in second grade, and it’s hard to believe I’m going to be a senior,” she said. “This will be a big year for me. I just want to play the best I can in all three sports. I want to be able to help all of those teams win.”

Nott sat down for an interview last week in between basketball practice and open gym volleyball.

Although she is one of the captains of the volleyball team and was a first team all-conference selection last year, she said volleyball came the least naturally to her, probably because she did not start playing the sport until she was in middle school.

She said Richwoods coach Cheryl Forgason and former all-conference player Janise Dismuke helped her improve a lot over a short period of time.

“When I was a sophomore, I didn’t know a lot about volleyball, but I’ve improved a lot,” she said. “Coach Forgason has been great. She helped me a lot. And, Janise has been a great teammate and friend. I just played beach volleyball with her the other day. I’m going to miss having her on my team.”

The 2007 season ended with a loss to Galesburg in the Richwoods Regional final game.

Nott said she is “pumped up” about the 2009 season, which begins in August.

“We’ll have to work some more on our passing, and we’ll have to practice hard for the rest of the summer,” she said. “But, other teams better watch out for us. Once we all get together as a team, we’ll be hard to beat.”

Nott’s younger sister, Cora, will also play on the varsity team this year.

When asked if she gives Cora any advice, Shyla said, smiling, “No. She thinks I’m the one who needs advice. She’s going to be a great player.”

Nott, who played mostly off the bench for the Sectional champion Lady Knights basketball team last year, said she is also working on becoming a better basketball player so she can play a bigger role next season.

Two of her favorite teammates, fellow seniors Danielle DesJardins and Maddie Nieukirk will be there to help her along — in very different ways.

“Danielle is definitely our leader. She has such good leadership abilities. She’s like another coach,” Nott said. “Maddie keeps everyone loose. She makes me laugh, and she makes it fun to come to practice.”

She said last year’s run to the Elite 8 was one of her biggest thrills in sports, but the end (a one-point loss in the Super-Sectional) was “heartbreaking.”

Nott was also the starting center fielder for the Lady Knights softball team, and she made a few relief pitching appearances.

She said she is not sure where she would like to go to college, or which sport (or sports) she would like to play, but she is considering her options.

She said she would like to major in business or international affairs because she likes to travel.

“That could change, though,” she said. “I like literature, too, so I might do something with that.”

She said she would like to continue with at least one of the sports in college.

“I’m talking to some coaches,” she said. “I’ll see how my senior year goes. I’m hoping that can open up some more doors.”