Melkayla Irvis carries on the family legacy

Irvis shown showcasing her school spirit. Photo courtesy of Josh Padilla

Melkayla Irvis continues the legacy at the collegiate level after she has been perfecting her craft since she was 4 years old. She stands today as the 2023 Preseason Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) honors athlete.  

 The love for softball derived from her father’s passion for the game. She was born into becoming an athlete. Irvis ensures that her family has been very supportive throughout her entire career.  

 Damon Irvis, Melkayla’s father, was a seasoned baseball player with prior experience playing; he was drafted in the 22nd round straight out of high school. The Major League Minnesota drafted him to the  Twins in 1994-1997 but he ended up playing for the Minor team affiliated with the Minnesota Twins.   

 At a young age her dad implemented training, mentorship and support to ensure she was able to carry on the family legacy.  

“It was fun because I loved the game and wanted to pass it along to my kids,” said Damon.  

 Melkayla followed in her father’s  footsteps– like a father, like a daughter. Her dad also played little league, high school ball, and had the opportunity to be drafted after high school.  

Softball became home for Irvis, once she was introduced to this softball career she dedicated more than  18 years of her life to it. Now she plays softball at the collegiate level at Florida A&M University as an Outfielder.   

Melkayla’s softball coach, Elizabeth Tyler  watched her grow since she was six years old and describes what it was like being her role model.  

“She was coachable, always willing to accept constructive criticism and always was the leader in the dugouts that kept a positive mindset,” said Tyler.  

Irvis first stepping stone to her softball career was with her Little League where she played at local community recreational fields between ages of 10 and 15 years old with the Lake Wales Allstars.   

During her matriculation, she was granted an opportunity to become an All-Star softball player. This was a continuation of the little league team, Each team was granted an option to pick their best players to compete against other counties. Irvis participated in this tournament every year until she was ineligible.  

Softball kept Irvis on her feet, which increased her ambition towards her goals to become a star player. Irvis played travel softball on the weekends and still maintained playing for her high school team during the week. Irvis  played for travel teams such as Crush , Bartow Intimidators, and the Polk County Dominators.    

Irvis sought encouragement from former Louisiana State University (LSU) standout  “ A.J. Andrews. Andrews played at top SEC schools at Louisiana State University (LSU)  where she won many accomplishments such as the Golden Glove Award.   

“This award attributes that Black girls are more than capable to ball and be successful at top programs and then the majority.” said Irvis.  

Moving into her high school years, she was a part of the varsity Highlanders softball team at Lake Wales High School for the entire four years. Irvis says she was not the captain but was respected and looked at as a role model to her team.  

 Melkayla was recognized for her efforts at the high school and collegiate level. Before leaving her hometown, she was awarded an honorable mention from Polk County. This was not enough for Irvis; her achievements did not stop there.  

During the SWAC conference, she was awarded the 2nd place pre-season award. In addition, for her desired position as pitcher she was congratulated for being the 8th athlete in the nation for triples, which was awarded by the National College Athletic Association (NCAA).  

During her softball career, Irvis was lucky to have not encountered any serious injuries. The biggest injury she ever had was an overstretched hamstring that she has continued to treat by stretching frequently.   

In 2020, Irvis  took a step away from playing and decided to give back as she coached her own team for the “Triple USSSA All-American” tournament during the summer for nine and 10-year-olds. During her coaching season, her team managed to win two out five games.  

Irvis shares that she doesn’t have any future plans to coach. But she does want to give back to the community by helping little league teams and high schools if they need it.  

Melkayla leaves advice to any future athlete that desires to play at the collegiate level.   

“ Never limit yourself and always go out swinging because you never know what you can do until you do it. Stay confident.” said Irvis.