Taylor Ward, of Knightdale, is a rising high school freshman with lofty aspirations to take her enthusiasm and love for the game of soccer all the way to Chapel Hill
Q: You are a rising freshman at Knightdale High but have already shown much dedication to your major interest – soccer. Are you hoping to continue this commitment in high school?
“I was the captain of my school’s (Wendell Middle) soccer team last year and I want to continue playing soccer at Knightdale High. Soccer does take up most of my time. I have made it to the Elite status in the East Wake Soccer Association, which I was pretty excited about. I go to a lot of soccer camps. I just got back from one. Probably the best one I have gone to is the ODP (Olympic Development Program) Camp at the University of Montevallo in Alabama. When you go to a camp like this, it is usually for a week at a time. I have a friend who is really into soccer like I am and we do everything together. We are both dedicated to it.”
Q: What is your long-term goal? Do you want to continue playing soccer in college?
“My ultimate goal is to attend the University of North Carolina. My dad went there and of course, I would love to play there – they have an awesome record (the UNC women’s soccer team recently won their 21st NCAA title). I have been to a few UNC games. I attended a camp once where Robbie Church (Duke women’s soccer coach) was my coach and I learned a lot.”
Q: So is Mia Hamm, well-known women’s soccer player and UNC graduate, your hero?
“I like Mia Hamm but if I had to choose a hero or role model, I would have to say Alex Morgan (Olympic gold medalist and member of the U.S. Women’s National Team). She just reminds me of myself – she started at the bottom and she worked hard to build herself up.”
Q: So if playing soccer professionally doesn’t work out, what careers are you considering?
“Well, I haven’t really put a lot of thought into that. I am hoping that while I am in high school, I will decide, but I think I would like to work in the medical field – either in sports medicine or as a physician’s assistant.”
Q: Any reservations about entering high school?
“We just had freshmen camp and we did some activities that helped us become familiar with the school. We got our lockers, and we were able to see what it is like to change classes. If I had a concern, it would be about the upperclassmen – that they won’t like the freshmen. I know my friends and I don’t have a lot of classes together so I am kind of bummed about that. I am used to being a straight-A student so I hope I am able to continue that.”
Q: When you are not playing soccer, what are your hobbies?
“I like to hang out with my friends. With soccer, I don’t have a lot of free time or open weekends so when I do get it, I like to just spend time with my friends.”
Q: Do you have any siblings?
“I have a brother, 9, and a sister, 11.”
Q: Are you a good big sister? Do you spend a lot of time with them?
“Well, I really can’t say I spend a lot of time with them but they are both into sports like me so that is nice.”
Q: Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
“That is a hard question but I would have to say both my mom and dad. They don’t let me get away with much. They are pretty tight. I want to be like my mom one day. If I have friend drama, I will talk to my dad and he helps me – he tells me I need to be the bigger person.”
Q: Any trips that made an impact on you?
“My church (Knightdale Baptist) collected items and we took them to Washington D.C. last month and gave them to the homeless. That was an eye-opening experience. It made you re-evaluate your life.”