• John Macon Gillespie

Taylor Hughes Excited About Opportunity On The Gridiron

How would you respond if presented with a challenge that goes against what has been considered normal for well over a century? That is the type of task Taylor Hughes was faced with one morning at school during break. Before we go any further into that, let us learn more about Taylor.

Taylor just completed her sophomore season of high school at Pontotoc. She excelled, as she has been doing for quite some time, in both soccer and volleyball. Soccer is her love. She has been playing the sport since she was just six years old, first with Tupelo Parks and Recreation and now with the Warriors and the Mississippi Flood. She hopes to one day play at the Division 1 level. Her days seem to revolve around games, tournaments, practices and individual workouts in order to make herself the best player she can be.

Taylor is 6-2 and has a very strong leg. With that comes a lot of responsibilities on a soccer field.

“I play a couple of positions,” Hughes told SES Mississippi. “Center-back which is a defensive position. I protect the goalie, block shots and stop the other team from shooting. I also play Defensive/Holding Midfielder, I control the middle, transition the ball between our forwards and defenders and with my leg, I sometimes take shots. I also take free kicks, which is when we get a call in our favor. I have made several goals from past the half field mark. I also take goal kicks.”

So Hughes is 6-2, strong leg and obviously very athletic. Hold that thought for a moment.

In 2016 the Pontotoc Football team came just one win away from heading to the 4A State Championship. They had one of their best seasons in recent memory and did so behind strong play from their senior class, primarily quarterback Jacob Carter. Carter was a leader and a playmaker and quite possibly one of the toughest players in the state. Coach Jeff Carter, who is also Jacob’s father, will have to find players to step into the role his son left behind. Along with playing quarterback, Jacob was also the team’s kicker.

Back to Taylor.

In April, Taylor was at break with her classmates when up walked Coach Carter. Hughes recalled the words he led with were short and to the point.

“He said ‘We need a kicker’,” Hughes recalled. “I couldn't believe it was actually happening. I knew that if I wanted this, then I was going have to prove to Coach Carter that I could do it. My friends and family always joked around about me possibly kicking a football and of course I'd seen where other soccer players had gotten that opportunity. I just never thought it would be me.”

Hughes would head out to the football field that very afternoon to try it out. She says it was really weird.

“All the boys were out there watching,” Hughes said. “But my first kick went right down the middle.”

With that, Hughes will get her shot to play a game of football that is made up of players some refer to as the Boys of Fall.

Hughes has now added football workouts to her long list of other practices and games she has going on, but says she is very excited to be a part of the football team.

“I like it,” Hughes expressed. “It’s a really good opportunity.”

She is right about that. This isn’t extraordinarily ground breaking stuff. Girls playing football has happened before. However, Hughes’ play will go a long way to ensuring that it happens again, and she understands the significance behind what she is doing.

“I know that it kind of makes me a role model and I like that,” Hughes explained. “At the spring game a little girl saw me out there in my jersey and she asked ‘what are you doing out here’. I told her I was on the team and she ran off yelling ‘I TOLD YOU GIRLS COULD PLAY FOOTBALL’.”

Taylor Hughes and the Warriors will kick off their season on August 18 on the road at Houston.

Go get’em, Taylor!

#WebbLewis #Pontotoc

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