Hattiesburg's Terrell signs with Troy soccerBy CAMAL PETRO,
In the span of nearly 10 years, Hattiesburg senior Taytum Terrell has gone from an unbalanced 8 year old flailing her arms around on the pitch to a soon-to-be Division I soccer player.
Terrell made it official with Troy University Wednesday by signing her National Letter of Intent with the school, becoming the second in her family to continue an athletics career in college.
“I visited a couple of schools,” Terrell said. “I went to Troy and I was like, ‘I love it here.’ The atmosphere is amazing, the coaches, the players and everybody just made me feel at home. Even though it’s four hours away, it feels very homey.”
The senior forward could be Hattiesburg High’s first player for the Lady Tigers’ soccer program to sign to a Division I school out of high school, too.
“Things like that, that’s an accomplishment,” Terrell said. “I’ve broken records scoring goals, and this is a record. I could be the first girl, and it’s just amazing.”
Terrell has been a fixture for the Lady Tigers since middle school. She’s racked up goals every season, including a 60-goal season as a junior last year. Her ultimate goal was a far-fetched one when she made it at an early age, but 250 career goals were in reach if she played a full season this year.
However, a torn ACL in September will sideline the striker for the rest of the 2018-19 campaign, ending her Hattiesburg High career with 203 goals. She was disappointed that her injury will keep her off the playing pitch, but now she’s at peace with the situation.
“I was upset at first, but at the end of the day, I did a lot before I go to college,” she said. “I just feel good about everything. Just relaxed.”
What’s motivating Terrell now is getting back on the field better than when she left it. She was nervous to tell the Troy coaches at first, but they quickly put her mind at ease. When Terrell and Troy coach Ged O’Conner first talked after her injury, Terrell said she basically whispered, ‘I tore my ACL,’ to him. The Troy coach fired back with, ‘Well, you’re our top recruit for 2019 and we’re expecting you to still come and start.’
“It encouraged me to get back where I was because he said he still expected me to start and I’m still the No. 1 recruit in 2019, so that made me feel a lot better,” Terrell said.
Terrell spent a few weeks prior to her surgery going to therapy for her knee, and now she spends two hours a day, four days a week doing rehab work. Even during Thanksgiving break, she took weights and other equipment home to do her rehab on her own.
“I’m very dedicated to soccer and I know I need to get back right because I refuse to go back out there and not be as good as I was or even better,” Terrell said.
Wednesday not only marked a special day for Taytum, but for the entire Terrell family. Taytum’s older sister, Lachan Terrell, became the first sibling to play a sport at the next level, as she’s currently playing basketball for William Carey. Junior Kendyl Terrell will most likely be the next to sign to play a college sport, and little brother, Clem Terrell, plays on the Hattiesburg Tigers soccer team, too.
The Terrell family is an athletic one, and it shows every time one of them takes the field or court.
“Our parents were just some athletes,” Terrell said. “I tell people all the time, when we were younger we’d get home and our dad would have cones laid out in the backyard. We had to do agility drills, we had to do soccer drills. We were like 10 or 11 and we didn’t get burnt out. It motivated us to do better.”
Terrell’s father, the late Clemon Terrell, passed away suddenly last November, but Taytum knows her father is happy for her accomplishments.
“He would be so excited,” Terrell said. “He wasn’t here when I committed, because I committed in March and he passed in November, but I know he’s very happy for me because he would always tell me, ‘There’s somebody coming, and they’re going to want you and they’re not going to stop until they get you,’ and that’s what (Troy) did. It made me think about him when I committed. A D1 school, Sun Belt, they really wanted me and I know he’s very happy for me.”