ALMA – Teagan Thrasher is hard to herd. She’s also faster than you think.
Just ask the Farmington sweeper, who nonchalantly slipped back to protect her goaltender a few weeks ago when Thrasher shot past her at lightning speed and shot the ball in one fluid motion towards the net, which shot over the Cardinals goalie and in scored the decisive goal in the 68th minute in Alma’s 3-0 win.
“When she first came out, we looked at her and said, ‘She looks like any other kid. She’s not very tall and doesn’t have a lot of height.’ But when we took her to a few summer games, she showed us some flashes of what she can do,” said Alma football coach Cory Sturdivant. “She definitely exceeded what we expected this season.”
Sturdivant has traversed the gamut of talented football players. He’s part coach, part salesman, and part father figure when it comes to getting kids excited about athletics.
“When I was in Hot Springs, I kept trying to recruit one of us [soccer] Children should be ours [football] table football i begged [Erick Guadron] for two years,” said Sturdivant. “Then the first game, there’s 4,000 people in the stands for the Lakeside game and he puts the opening kick through the back of the end zone. I knew then that we had him.”
Then there’s the particular case of Teagan Thrasher.
To say she wasn’t on the radar two months ago wouldn’t be an understatement — nor would it be too far-fetched to project her now as potentially one of the top scorers in Alma’s short history.
“Some people are black and white … I’m a lot of different shades of gray,” Sturdivant said. “If we can make it work for the child, we will do whatever we can. She is in a unique situation. She had to work a lot; we weren’t even sure if she was going to play.”
Thrasher met with school counselors to help smooth out her schedule so she could leave early for Fort Smith, where she works at the Raising Cane restaurant, and to make up for some of the credits she was missing when she first joined Alma in March 2022 enrolled.
“I used to work longer hours,” she says. “I changed my working hours so I can go to training, so now I sometimes work 5 to midnight. I also worked at Raising Cane’s in Texas.”
As for your football skills? Their potential cannot be denied. Thrasher scored seven goals in the team’s first four games, including a school-record four goals in the team’s 8–0 shutout against Heavener, Okla.
The Lady Airedale freshman football player relocated to Arkansas from the north Houston suburb of Kingwood, Texas after her father, Tom, took a job at ArcBest. For the past five years, the Thrashers have lived in Madison, Miss.; Kingwood, Texas; Dallas; and now Alma.
“My father’s job is through ArcBest; he gets offers sometimes,” Thrasher said. “I went to a STEM school [Dallas] that had no sport, and then I was online because of Covid.”
Thrasher grew up in Madison, Miss., a town north of Jackson that was once a stagecoach stop on the famous Natchez Trace.
“We lived there until I was 12,” Thrasher said.
It was here, she said, that she honed her soccer kills.
Between adjusting, catching up on so many credits and getting to know football again, Thrasher admitted to feeling a little overwhelmed.
“It was hard [moving]plus it was a new school,” Thrasher said.
In March 2022, as Thrasher settled in, she became friends with Austin Sorrells in PE, who suggested she try for the football team.
A year later everything was going well.
“I think it was a little difficult at first just because I’m brand new and this is the first time I’ve played soccer since sixth grade,” Thrasher said. “[But] It’s really nice to be part of a team. They’re very supportive and treat each other right.”
In 2020, Sturdivant and the Lady Airedales were on the cusp of something special. On March 10, 2020, the Lady Airedales shut out Vilonia 4-0 to take their 5A West record to 2-0 and the aggregate score to 5-1.
Then Covid-19 brought everything to a standstill. A year later, Alma was struggling to a 0-15-1 finish – a season in which the team only managed four goals.
Last year, Alma finished 4-12-4 and scored 22 goals for the entire season. It did not score its 21st goal until April 27.
Winning four games in a row – a feat not even accomplished by the 2020 team before the shutdown – is remarkable.
“It means so much, especially since we’ve lost so many games in the past [two] years,” said Senior Presli Taylor. “It reminds me a bit of 2020. I’m curious what [this season] has to offer.”
Thrasher and Taylor have combined for 13 of the Lady Airedales’ 21 goals this season. Strong-legged Liv Reed has four goals.
Four others – Marti Lineberry, Yoesline Gonzalez, Lexi Julian and Abbi Cater – have also scored this season.
“It’s really good to have someone we can keep in the middle so we can have everyone else in the position where they’re better,” said Taylor. “To have you [Thrasher] being in the middle makes it better for everyone else to play a role.”
Thrasher admits to being surprised by their launch.
“Honestly, yes, but I think it’s because of the support from the team,” she said. “They are very supportive.”