A soccer player since the age of 2, St. Michael High School student Meredith Taliaferro said it was the desire to try something new that led her to join her school’s football team this past summer.

Having grown up with two athletic older brothers, and having also been a softball player and powerlifter since seventh grade, Taliaferro, 17, was looking for a challenge.

“I had friends on the team and I was like, ‘This seems really fun, I should try it,’ so I just asked coach Leger and he was all about it,” the high school junior said. “He was very supportive, and so was the team.”

Although she’s the first female student in St. Michael’s history to ever join the school’s football team, the main challenge Taliaferro said she faces is adjusting to an unfamiliar sport, which requires a new set of skills.

It’s a lot different than soccer, she noted, but she’s making progress.

“I love it. It’s really like a family,” she said. “All the guys have taken me in, and the coaches are awesome, especially coach Leger. He always tells us he loves us and that we’re a family and we stick together.”

On Friday Taliaferro added another title to her standout year: member of her school’s homecoming court.

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“We wear these white suits with a little hat, and our dads present us,” she said before Friday’s game. “I’ll wear that before, and then during halftime I’ll wear my uniform because I don’t really have time to change.”

In college, Taliaferro said she hopes to pursue a degree in the medical field and is tentatively looking at applying to the University of Arkansas.

As for playing football in college, she said she’ll see where the next two years take her.

“It would be awesome if I could (play) football. That would be really fun, but we’ll see,” she said. “I’ve kind of got to get my feet wet first.”

She said she hopes other girls follow in her footsteps.

“I really want to put emphasis on my team and how amazing they are. They’ve supported me through this and they’ve always had my back,” Taliaferro said. “I can’t thank them enough for this experience. No other girl has this, but I hope they can, because it’s just really awesome and eye-opening.

“It kind of makes you stronger and believe in yourself more.”