By Chris Chaney
When it came to making a decision on where Bethel-Tate senior defenseman Nick Taggert would continue his education and soccer career, he chose a place that had already seemed like a home away from home.
Taggert signed his National Letter of Intent to attend and compete at Kentucky Christian University on March 15, a school that Taggert has been visiting for years as part of a church youth group.
“I used to go there with my church all the time and I like the atmosphere there and the small college (feel),” the senior said. “I felt like it was the best fit for me. The coaches there seem awesome. They’re working to make it a good program.”
Taggert has been a mainstay in the Bethel program during his time as a Tiger. A do-everything senior, Taggert took on the challenge of playing sweeper for the Tigers at a time when the team needed him most, something his father and former coach said tells you everything you need to know about Taggert.
“I coached (Nick) from first grade through eighth grade and I’m the JV coach at Bethel, too, so I’ve been right there at the forefront of his soccer,” Dave Taggert said. “Growing up he was always one of the faster kids, so he played striker and outside wing positions, but he’ll play anywhere.
“This year as a senior, he volunteered to take on the sweeper position. He’s the last line of defense and it’s a high-stress position. Not a lot of kids want to play it because of that, there’s not a lot of glory in that position. As one of the team captains this year, it was a huge thing for him to step up and volunteer to do it when no one else wanted to do it.”
Dave Taggert explained that sweeper is a thankless position. Clearing out threat after threat is fine and good, but if the sweeper lets one run get past him, he receives the brunt of the blame.
As a senior co-captain, Nick Taggert took on that role, giving up the opportunity to be a stat sheet stuffer for the good of the team. The Tigers went 8-6-2 overall and finished third in the Southern Buckeye Conference American Division with a 4-5-1 record.
Taggert was honored for his hard work and selflessness at the SBC Fall Sports Award Banquet where he was named to the First Team All-Conference.
Aside from playing for Bethel, Taggert has been playing club soccer for the past five years with Ohio Elite where he has embraced a similar role as sweeper.
“Every coach that he has had has loved the heart that Nick plays with,” Dave Taggert said. “One coach said that if he asked Nick to run through a wall, he would do it. He doesn’t give up and that’s an attribute of what kind of person he is as much as the kind of player he is.”
When the decision needed to be made of where he would continue his career, Taggert looked towards his faith to guide him, only to find out it already had.
“Our faith is huge and in the forefront in our lives,” Dave Taggert said. “We used to always take the youth group to Kentucky Christian University to a thing they had in the summer for high school kids called Summer in the Sun. There were times when we were doing that when he was little, that family members would bring him down to spend time with us.
“He’s kind of grown up there. When he got to high school, he continued going with the youth group with the Bethel (Church of Christ). And he’s always loved the college.”
Through those youth retreats, Taggert has made some contacts at the school that helped him to finally decide on KCU, including a current player.
“When we would go to Summer in the Sun, I met one of the players and I’ve talked to him a lot,” Nick Taggert said. “(I hope) that they really bring out the best in me and that we play together as a team.”
Admittedly, Dave Taggert said that Nick could have gone to other schools, but he was thinking about his life after college more and not simply about soccer when he chose Kentucky Christian.
“Getting to play soccer there was the icing on the cake,” Dave Taggert said. “He knows he will get the education that is Christian-based… It means a lot because (soccer) is one of his biggest passions. Soccer was his No. 1 love and that’s what he wanted to devote his athletic career to.”
Taggert will enroll in the fall of 2013 and plans to study physical therapy. He will join a roster loaded with young talent looking to improve each and every year. With Taggert’s talent and selfless determination, there’s no doubt he’ll continue to be successful.