CUMMING, Ga. — When Piney Grove Middle student Samantha Pixley puts her mind to something, don’t doubt her.
After she grew up watching her father compete in kickboxing and full-contact karate, she set out to join Tae Kwon Do. She’s now a black belt and a gold medal winner at the Atlanta Open.
She then decided she was going to make straight-A’s this semester. Mission accomplished.
And over the summer she thought she’d like to try her hand at football. Done.
Pixley said she has always enjoyed watching the sport, so when she found out she could try out for the Piney Grove team, she was on board.
“I like being competitive against other people that other people wouldn’t go against,” she said. That includes taking down bigger opponents in Tae Kwon Do and making tackles on the football team.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said.
Pixley was originally interested in joining the team’s offense, but found she had a knack for reading defenses. She has since begun playing safety, and shows no fear in taking down much larger competitors.
Pixley said most of her classmates, teammates and coaches were supportive of her decision to go out for the team. And those who questioned her simply fueled her fire.
Samantha’s father, Randy, said he has learned to never doubt his daughter.
“She is a hard worker and never quits,” he said. “It takes a certain kind of 13-year-old girl to run full speed at a much heavier boy running full speed at her.”
Even so new to the sport, she plays with an unmatched vigor, he said.
“I would bet a lot of coaches would love to have players that have the same heart and determination,” he said. “Whatever experience she lacks out there, she makes up for with true fearfulness and sheer determination.”
Pixley said she appreciates the contact of the sport, a factor that drew her to Tae Kwon Do.
“I like the different disciplines, the contact and the character in that sport,” she said.
But her next endeavor could be the most contact-heavy of all, mixed martial arts.
Pixley said after this football season, she will pursue training for the fighting discipline. If history is any indication, she should have no trouble rising to the occasion and breaking barriers.