By: Kesi Jackson
Freshman Sophie Hightower is not only a player on both the varsity golf and soccer teams, but also a member of the flag football squad.
Furthermore, outside of school, she participates in basketball, softball and lacrosse.
Hightower wants to continue playing sports in college and is interested in attending the University of Mississippi.
“I’m trying to get into college for sports,” Hightower said. “I’d like to play soccer in college, but if I have the opportunity to go for golf I’d do that too.”
Hightower’s main position on the soccer team is goalie. Because there are already two goalies on the varsity team, she plays on the varsity and junior varsity team.
Some of the seasons overlap for some of the sports she plays, but that doesn’t impact her negatively.
Due to the fact that Hightower also plays on a travel team for soccer, her already limited free time is constricted. She has practice three times a week during the entire year and tournaments on the weekends.
“I don’t have a lot of time,” Hightower said.
“But I also don’t know what I would do with my time if I didn’t have sports. I feel like I work harder if I don’t have enough time because I have to fit everything in.”
Hightower said that she didn’t interact with a lot of people on the flag football team before she played.
“I’ve grown as a person [from being on these teams,]” Hightower said. “In the beginning of the year, I was really set on only hanging out with a certain group of people but now I don’t care.
“My teammates are really accepting, and because we hang out every day together after school and for pre games on game day, we all get along really well.”
Hightower’s closeness to her teammates at Leon pushes her to try harder, as she doesn’t want to let those people down.
“If someone is feeling down and we’re not playing our best, we want to understand how they’re feeling so we can help push them back up,” Hightower said.
Freshman Shania Cromartie, Hightower’s friend, said they bonded due to their common interest in sports.
Cromartie plays volleyball.
In class, they’ll come to each other to talk about any issues they’re having on their respective teams.
“Sophie came and supported a lot of the volleyball games and I try to do the same for her,” said Cromartie.“We encourage each other and work each other up.
“She’s very passionate on and off the field. She’s very motivational to her teammates.”
Hightower says that being goalie adds a lot of pressure, but that it’s motivating.
“It’s not soccer, it’s my position in soccer that I love,” Hightower said. “Being the goalie puts me in the position to say ‘Hey. we’re not going to win this game or we might win.’ It’s my job to encourage my teammates and to tell them what to do so we can know how to win. If we lose I can pick them back up for the next game. That’s my job and I really like that.”
Hightower accredits her love of football to her father.
“My dad doesn’t have a son to talk about sports with, so it’s pretty cool that I get to do that with him,” Hightower said.
“Having my dad encouraging me makes me want to try my best at every game, no matter what.”