Kayla Sykes proclaims herself a pretty good drummer.
She’s also not a bad basketball player.
The Atlantic County Institute of Technology senior scored her 1,000th career point Monday in ACIT’s 66-46 home win over Cedar Creek. The 5-foot-8 guard began Thursday averaging 13 points and eight rebounds for the undefeated Red Hawks (8-0).
“It’s a lot of hard work paying off. A lot of late nights and training sessions,” Sykes said. “I’m glad we’re undefeated. We worked so hard this summer and fall. We’re hoping we can surprise a lot of people and a lot of teams this year.”
Sykes, 18, lives in Egg Harbor Township and is the daughter of Gregory McKellar and Lonniyell Sykes. Sykes has a younger sister, 9-year-old Trinitee McKellar.
Sykes plays the drums at her church — Victory First Presbyterian Church in Atlantic City. Sykes started playing basketball when she was 5. She started drumming when she was 7.
“I really didn’t now how to play,” she said. “I didn’t really go to any lessons. I taught myself. I learned the rhythm and time. I’m a decent drummer.”
In a telephone interview Tuesday night, Sykes discussed several topics, including the inspiration she got from her deceased great-aunt, Carol Small-Smith.
On scoring her 1,000th career point
It felt wonderful, honestly. It was a great accomplishment. Before last year, I didn’t know I was on my way to 1,000. It felt great to do it at home in front of my friends and family.
On how she started playing basketball
I started at the age of 5. My aunt, Carol Small-Smith, inspired me. She used to play in Ocean City rec games. She was a coach also. She mainly coached in Pleasantville. She was like that light that gave me the courage to play basketball. She passed away (in 2013) due to breast cancer. She gave me more confidence and aggression to play basketball.
On her early basketball struggles
I struggled with dribbling when I started playing. I had trouble. I would be so mad I would ask my aunt how to dribble. I would teach myself how to dribble with my right hand and left hand.
On attending ACIT
Right now, I’m in the architecture academy. I want to be an interior designer. We’re a very welcoming school. We have such a diverse community. Everybody gets along well.
On why she likes architecture
I always liked looking at mansions. I thought I could (design) them one day. I could create my own house. That’s what I always pictured.
On being an older sister
She’s following my footsteps. I have to set a great example for her. She’s also becoming a star with her team in basketball. I always try to teach her the right things to do and to stay motivated.
Who is your favorite athlete?
Russell Westbrook — He’s so aggressive with driving, shooting, playing defense. I love his mentality.
What was the last book you read?
‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’
What was the last television show you binge watched?
Favorite food to order when you go out to eat?
Chicken tenders and fries