First Posted: 9/4/2010
ST.PAULS She tightens her ponytail before the whistle and stares down at her competition. She sprints with reckless abandoned when the ball travels to her side of the field. Dont give her an open net.
Sabeth Hunt is fearless.
I dont back down from anybody, Hunt said. When I get knocked down, I just get up and dont say anything.
As a 15-year-old freshman on the St. Pauls varsity soccer team, it would have been normal to be a little nervous, maybe even scared.
Especially since shes a female – playing with boys.
Hunt is the only female athlete in Robeson County and the Three Rivers Conference to play on a boys soccer team, according to her coach Brent Martin, and St. Pauls athletic director, Jay Lowry.
Since participation crippled the Bulldogs effort to field a girls team, Martin invited Hunt to try out for a spot on his 15-player roster.
He was glad he did.
And so were Hunts teammates.
I had to double check with the NCHSAA to make sure she could play with us, Martin said. Shes a solid player who has played a lot of travelball. Some of that expertise she learned in travel ball has really helped her at the varsity level.
Hunt survived tryouts during the summer, shortly after completing her eighth grade year at St. Pauls Middle School. That was the only time anxiety came into play.
But only for a second.
At first, I wasnt sure if I could do it, Hunt said before finishing laps at practice Tuesday. After coach told me what I needed to work on and pointed out the stuff I did right, I felt more comfortable about it. I was so happy when I made the team.
Running alongside players twice her size, Hunt says shes not affected by the speed of play and violent collisions that exist in prep soccer.
In fact, battling against the opposite sex is nothing new to the Bulldogs right midfielder.
It doesnt bother me (because) when I was little, I played with the boys all the time, Hunt said. So, its kind of like playing with girls to me. I dont notice a difference.
Hunt made her presence felt earlier this season for Martins 4-0 squad, scoring the final goal of a 15-3 romp over Flora MacDonald in the season opener. Hunt booted a line drive over the goalies outstretched arms in the 78th minute after a pass from Dillon Yanosik, Hunt glanced at the scoreboard and smiled before nodding to her coach and her mother, Tawanna Locklear.
She hurried back to her spot near the center line to finish out the games last two minutes, avoiding the spotlight of individual honor in favor of defense. Martin didnt know what to think of his star freshman.
He just smiled back and raised his arms.
Ill be honest with you, Im sure its happened somewhere in North Carolina before, but Sabeth could be one of the first girls to ever start on a boys soccer team, Sabeth said. I need to look up the statistics. She might be making history and we dont even know it.
Martin says Hunt’s powerful right leg keeps the opposition off-balance and gives the Bulldogs another scoring threat along with Yanosik and Jorge Mendez.
Hunt has enjoyed the experience with the boys team and says she would be willing to play on the girls squad if one existed.
But only if she had to.
Really, I hope I just stay on the boys team, cause its more competitive and it makes me a better player, Hunt said. I mean, a girls team would be good for the school but Id be better off with the boys. Plus, I think it would be easier to get a (soccer) scholarship if Im on the boys team.
Hunt plans on attending The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after graduation in 2014. She wants to major in sports medicine.
I have confidence in myself, Hunt said. I can do anything as long as I try.