Accomplishing the goal of becoming a successful NCAA Division I athlete is impressive, no matter who you are. But, for Troy University’s Taytum Terrell, her journey makes her success that much more fulfilling to witness.
Taytum is a sophomore for Troy’s women’s soccer team. After seven matches without a win to start the 2020 season, Terrell and the Trojans defeated Coastal Carolina last weekend to pick up their first victory. Discussing that win, Terrell told BGN, “It just helped us out a lot. You know, we just didn’t quit playing. And even though we scored at the beginning, we just didn’t let them score on us.”
“And I just think it’s just more motivation for us as a team and especially it being on Senior Day and we just really worked hard to stay together and play as a team.”
While a tough start to the season isn’t fun to deal with, Terrell’s had to overcome much bigger obstacles in her recent past than a few losses on the field. Taytum was a two-sport star in high school for Hattiesburg High School. She has the school record for goals scored in soccer and the 800m in track, which she also won two state championships in. She feels her track background benefits her on the soccer pitch. “Track helped so much because soccer is basically track, like you run so much,” she explained. “We’re running all the time and you just have to be fit. It’s a different kind of fitness. With track, you have to be fit for that event and then you can take a break. With soccer, you’re always constantly running.”
Terrell’s accolade-filled high school athletic career came to an end after tearing her ACL. But, unfortunately, that knee injury wouldn’t be the biggest hurdle that Taytum had to overcome during her high school years. In 2017, she lost her father, Clemon Terrell, a former running back at Southern Miss and beloved longtime parks director in Hattiesburg.
“Well, I always think about him every time I play because you know, both my parents played (sports) in college and it’s just hard to go to college and not play with him there,” Taytum said. “But, it’s rewarding because I just think about him all the time and how proud of me he is. And I know he’s just looking down on me, just watching me play every game and just really happy for me and just encouraging me from up above.”
There’s no doubt that he was proud as Taytum battled back from the knee injury to score four goals in her freshman season at Troy. She explained that she often jokes with head coach Ged O’Connor about the fact that he took her back because some coaches wouldn’t even bring in a new player after an ACL tear. Terrell said, “I’m just thankful to Ged that he’s letting me play and giving me this opportunity.”
89' | GOAAAAALLLLL! The Trojans find the equalizer! @taytumrt finds the bouncing ball deep in the Cajuns box and scores her fourth goal of the season!
— Troy Trojans Soccer (@TroyTrojansWSOC) October 27, 2019
“So during quarantine, I worked hard and was just like, ‘okay, I’m going to play this year and I’m going to play as much as I can’. And he’s just giving me that great opportunity to play and I’ve just been fortunate to have that.”
After putting that work in during the offseason, Taytum has started every match this season for the Trojans. But, she hasn’t found the net yet as a sophomore. However, that doesn’t prevent her from making an impact on the match and enjoying when her team succeeds. “Well, I mean, it is kind of unfortunate that I haven’t scored, but I’m more of like, I don’t really care who’s scoring as long as we win,” she said. “When I lose the ball, I’ll work back to get it just for the team. Like, you know, playing as a team is just more important to me than scoring. If we win, we win.”
Taytum Terrell and the Trojans will have two more chances for regular season wins when they face Georgia State tonight and Georgia Southern on Sunday, both on the road. Then, it will be onto the Sun Belt Tournament.