Prep Soccer: Soccer a perfect fit for Lincoln's Faulkner
Taylor Faulkner of Lincoln County, advancing the ball in a recent game against Garrard County, has been a team captain throughout her four-year high school career. (Mike Marsee / October 2, 2012)
Introduced to soccer at an early age, the Lincoln County quickly came to enjoy everything from the speed of the game to the chance to mix it up a little bit from time to time.
It is the only sport she has played for any length of time, and she said it has been the perfect sport for her since she first kicked the ball.
“I’ve been playing since I was a little kid,” she said. “I’m not that girly-girl; I’m not a cheerleader. This is the sport for me. It’s fun, it’s fast-paced and it’s a little aggressive.”
Soccer is only one of part of Faulkner’s life, but it has been a big part of her life since age 4. And she said it has been more rewarding than ever this season as she and her Lincoln teammates have built another successful season.
“It’s definitely satisfying,” she said. “We come here and sometimes we don’t want to practice or we huff and puff, but when you get in a game and you see that all that hard work pays off, it’s really satisfying to see that all that effort that you put into it has some kind of reward to it.
This is the third straight season Lincoln (10-3-2) has reached double digits in wins, and it will be the Patriots’ fifth straight winning season, and Faulkner said the players and the program are continuing to improve as they move toward the postseason next week.
“It’s been really great. This is my senior year, and I think that we’ve gotten better every year that I’ve been on the team. And it’s been a lot of fun to work with these girls and to grow with them, not just with our own skills, but as a team we’re really close, so it’s been great,” she said.
Faulkner has a new role with the Patriots this season, as she was moved from midfield to defense by first-year coach Andrew Kaiser.
“He said, ‘What have you normally played in the past?’ I’ve played defense a little here and there when they needed me, and he said, ‘Well, I’d like to try you there.’ So we did, and so far it’s worked out good for us,” Faulkner said.
She said her new position has taken some getting used to, but she has found it can be every bit as rewarding as positions where she’d be more likely to score.
“This is kind of a new thing for me, and it’s a lot different, the perspective you get back there. But it’s great to be that support system for your teammates who are playing midfield and forward and scoring goals,” she said. “It’s almost as rewarding to know that you made that great play for them that allowed them to get the goals.
“So it’s a team effort, and wherever you play there’s always some kind of payoff for you.”
Faulkner has also been rewarded by her teammates, who voted her as one of Lincoln’s captains in each of her four seasons.
“That’s been a huge honor, because that’s something that our teammates vote on, it’s not a coaches’ pick, so that’s been really important to me, that they look up to me as a leader,” she said.
She said she tries to maintain a positive attitude in practices and games, and she said she thinks that’s a reason behind her teammates’ votes.
“That’s as much of it as anything, being encouraging and being that positive force instead of trying to tear people down. That never really gets you anywhere,” she said. “I think the girls really appreciate that I try to be positive and encouraging. I don’t think that I’ve ever had a spat with anybody on the team. I try to get along with everybody, and I guess, play that peacemaker when things are starting to get a little hostile. But I try to bring a good spirit, and I think the girls see that. And I think a lot of us have that positive attitude, and I think that works out really well for us.”
Faulkner doesn’t play any other sports, but she has a full schedule both in and out of soccer season. She has a 4.6 weighted grade-point average, is involved with a handful of clubs and honor societies, performs in school musicals and sings in choirs both at school and at Stanford Baptist Church.
“It kind of surprises people when I say that I like sports and that I’m also this girl who likes to sing and draw. They don’t usually mesh together like that,” she said.
Faulkner’s combination of talent, fitness and academic achievement helped her win the Lincoln County Distinguished Young Woman (formerly Junior Miss) competition last weekend. She won more than $5,500 in scholarships and a spot in the statewide competition in January.
“One of my first thoughts after I won was, ‘Oh, no, I’ve got to start prepping for state,’” Faulkner told The Interior Journal of Stanford after the contest. “I put a lot of work into this program, and it was definitely difficult to balance with my (soccer) schedule, but it was fun. It was crazy, but I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”
Besides, Faulkner said she likes to stay busy, even if that sometimes means skipping one practice to attend another or staying up until 1 a.m. to finish homework after a road game.
“Most of the time I do, but right now it’s a little overwhelming for me,” she said. “I like to be busy. I get a little bored if I’m not.”
Faulkner doesn’t plan to play soccer in college, at least not above the intramural level. She hasn’t picked a school yet but said she would like to major in biology and eventually become a physician’s assistant.
Meanwhile, she said she is enjoying every minute of her final season in her favorite sport.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately being a senior, and it is starting to hit me that this probably is going to be my last season playing soccer, and it’s really strange to think that such a big part of my life is going to be coming to a close soon, and I’m really thankful that I can spend it with these girls,” she said.
“Hopefully these last couple games can work out good for us and we can keep our season going as long as we possibly can.”