Recent Lincoln High School graduate Taylor Lett, a volleyball and soccer standout, ended her playing career with the Lady Golden Bears by finishing first-team all-state in both sports.
Lett said it was great to close the door on her playing career in such a manner -- on the best terms she could given the COVID-19 pandemic cut short the soccer season.
“Throughout high school and starting out from middle school, I’ve always wanted people to remember that person or that athlete who was good both on and off the field,” she said. “To accomplish both those in both sports in the same year, it feels really good. To not even get to finish my senior year for soccer and still get that award and achievement, it makes me feel even better because I really pushed myself.”
She added she loved being a part of both programs during her time at Lincoln.
“There’s no other program I’d rather be a part of because not only did we push each other off the field, we pushed each other on the field and in school, and (we) just stayed focused,” Lett said. “We wanted to accomplish incredible things and we wanted everyone to have that.
“Personally, I always wanted the seniors ahead of me to have the best season they could ever have, so I would work hard. I think that’s how everybody felt.”
The all-state nods were a capstone to a year that brought Lett all-county honors as well as an Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year award given by the coaches involved in Lincoln High School girls athletics.
According to Lady Golden Bears head volleyball coach Patty Hansen, Lett’s accomplishment marked the first time in Hansen’s 15 years at the school that a female athlete made all-state in two sports at any point in their careers, let alone the same season.
“It’s just a testament of her hard work, her diligence, her staying motivated and her contributing to many things, not just on the volleyball court or on the soccer field, but also in that weight room,” Hansen said. “She makes her presence known there. She motivates the girls in the weight room and does what she needs to. She just continuously works hard.”
Lett said summer workouts were all about the girls seeing the bigger picture and finding the resolve to get through it.
“You dread it, but you realize it’s all for a bigger purpose and it’s all to be able to accomplish good things during the season,” she said. “It can get frustrating when people don’t work as hard as you know they can and they don’t push themselves.
“I just felt that it was better to stand up, keep pushing people and being a leader because some people, they need that. They need to see that it’s OK to push yourself that hard and it’s OK to want something bigger than what other people wanted.”
Hansen said Lett has displayed great intangibles in her six years at various levels of Lincoln’s volleyball program -- three of those years on varsity.
“Being the setter, the main one that kind of runs our plays and gets things going, she just made a positive impact, both on the court with her volleyball skills and with her leadership,” Hansen said. “She was good at getting girls pepped up, ready to go and motivated to do what they needed to do to make it successful for all of us.”
Lincoln girls soccer coach Will Bailey said Lett brought it every day, regardless of the situation.
“She was always hungry,” he said. “She was always wanting to get better and always asking me what she could do. She was putting in extra time, kicking the ball up in the air and working on her traps -- anything she could do to get better.”
He added Lett made an immediate impact in her three years with the varsity team.
“She loves telling people that I told her she’d probably play a season of JV and work her way up to varsity,” he said. “Come Game 1 of her first year, she was starting on varsity, so she was a fast learner from the get-go.”
Bailey said Lett went from a sophomore with plenty of hustle who sometimes struggled to put the ball in the air to a reliable weapon on offense in her senior year.
“Every time she was within 25 yards, she had an opportunity to score, whether it be with her head or whether it be taking a shot,” he said. “She actually had a college offer from Faulkner (University). She absolutely changed the whole tone of our program just by her work ethic every single day.
“I can speak on behalf of the whole female athletic program. I coach the strength and conditioning class with Coach Hansen, and she (Lett) busts her tail in there. It’s not like she just did it on the soccer field or she just did it on the volleyball court. She did it in every phase of life, and that’s why she’s being celebrated right now because she put in the work.”
Lett said the senior-heavy soccer squad handled the shortened season in stride. The girls finished the season at 13-3-1 with nine games remaining.
“It’s sad, but I’m also very proud of how we played when we got the chance to play, how we took everything happening and how we just kind of rolled with the punches and kept our heads up,” she said. “Hopefully, next year, they will continue to keep setting records and to have a good season.”