By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary already has the Celtic Pride Award for seniors who have competed in three sports every year of their high school career.
For Haley Hughes, it may have to create a whole new honor.
“I’ve just always been busy overall with sports so I’ve just kind of gotten used to it,” said Hughes, who started with soccer when she was five years old. “I’ve been able to handle it and it’s not too difficult for me.”
Now a junior, Hughes decided to give football a try. With a father, Kyle, who coaches at the high school as well as for McNary Youth Football and three younger brothers who play the sport, it’s a wonder it took her so long.
“I could have played when I was younger but I had soccer,” Hughes said. “I could have played last year but I couldn’t get into it. I started practicing kicking last year in the spring and I kept working on it and I got out for their summer camp for football and started practicing.”
Kicking runs in the Hughes family. Kyle kicked and punted in college at Willamette University.
Haley started with extra points before moving further and further back and trying kicks at different angles. She’s made a 40-yard field goal in practice.
Kicking a soccer ball and football isn’t that much different.
“The way that you actually kick the ball is pretty much the same,” Hughes said. “With football you have to get more height to the ball but overall it’s the same.”
Swinging between the JV and varsity football teams, Hughes has made two extra points, including one for the varsity team’s home opener against North Medford on Aug. 31.
“I was actually really nervous beforehand and then as soon as I got out there, I just kicked it and did what I normally do in practice,” Hughes said. “I just felt so much relief after I got it in. It was a really nice feeling.”
While being the only girl on the varsity football team “felt a little bit odd” at first, it now feels “totally normal.”
When deciding to play football, Hughes did have to give up cross country. She won’t run track in the spring either to make time for music as Hughes also plays violin in McNary’s top orchestra.