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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: The Face of Sportsmanship

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

by SYDNEY CHURCH - Senior Taylor Jackson opens up on how playing multiple sports has impacted her personal and academic life.

Jackson (right) poses with a fellow female football athlete from Avon (photo courtesy of IHSAA)

WESTFIELD, Ind. (Nov. 2019) - As a multi-sport athlete, Taylor Jackson (12) has time for it all. Jackson is not only an avid student, National Charity League member and a diver on the WHS swim team, but, as a first in school history, she is also the only female on both the hockey and football teams. Because of her drive and dedication, Jackson was selected by the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) as the student athlete “Face of Sportsmanship” for the month of November. After high school, Jackson hopes to begin her pre-medical track at Yale or Cornell University.

Q: How long have you been playing football for the high school team?

A: “This is my second season playing as kicker for Westfield.”

Q: What made you want to play football?

A: “I was already playing three other sports throughout the school year, but I wanted to do something in the autumn to keep myself as strong as possible before those other seasons began.”

Jackson (#97) kicks the ball for a field goal at a game

Q: How does playing football affect your high school experiences?

A: “Every day after school I got to practice just like any other athlete, but being the only girl on my team has led to great opportunities. Since I decided to play football, I got the chance to directly influence other young girls in our community. I regularly spend time with the only other girl football player in our school district. She is in sixth grade and plays safety.”

Q: How do people react to you being on the team?

A: “Other young girls have often approached myself or my family after games saying that they didn’t know it was okay for girls to play football, and that they might want to try. When people ask me why I want to play football with the boys, I find myself quoting the toughest sixth grader I know: ‘There’s no rule that says I can’t, so why shouldn’t I? Who’s going to stop me?’”

Q: How is your relationship with the boys on your team?

A: “Last year it was very difficult on the team. My relationship with the boys was generally not great and some would go out of their way to convince me I didn’t belong. Football, in general, is largely perceived as a sport only for young men, especially at Westfield. It’s actually just a sport for anyone who loves the game and is willing to work hard. This year, I could not be happier with my relationship with the boys or the coaches. I am treated entirely as an equal and am accepted just as much as any boy on the team.”

Jackson protecting the Shamrocks goal at a hockey game

Q: Apart from football, you also dive and play hockey. How does your playing time in those sports differ from your playing time in football?

A: “I play much more in hockey or diving than I do in football, but that’s okay; whatever is best for the team is what has to be done, and playing time for every kid isn’t always what’s best. After football season, diving is in full swing and I become the go-to kid no matter the opponent, so it’s nice to not play as much in the autumn.”

Q: Which sport has been most beneficial to you overall?

A: “Diving has been very fun and it is a sport I was always naturally pretty good at. Football, though, has built my character more than I could have ever imagined.”

Jackson diving at a swim meet

Q: What is a memory for each sport that you have held on to?

A: “Football and diving are kind of one in the same. At Midnight Madness this year, I was supposed to be the backup goalie all night and play our full game the following day. I came to the game and got ready without an issue, hearing many of my friends from the football team chanting to put me in. My coach let me finish the last few minutes of the game to give the people what they wanted. I don’t know if I have ever seen so many people be so happy for me. My teammates from football were all screaming and waving to me from the stands, and all of the hockey boys came over and jumped on me when the game was over. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. It truly showed that I was loved and accepted at both sports. As for diving, my first memory is winning my first ever invitational meet as a freshman.”

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