When Taylor Calcutt steps onto the field for Midway in his junior year, he will be looked upon as a leader for both the football and baseball teams.
It’s a role Calcutt has grown used to.
Having played varsity baseball since he was a freshman and having started at quarterback as a sophomore last year for the Raiders, Taylor is now accustomed to the challenges and pressures he faces as a high school athlete. So far, he’s taken these challenges in stride.
“Even though I’m young I still try to lead,” he says. “Just because I was young, I didn’t let that overcome me. This year with baseball I still tried to lead, do everything as if I was a senior. This year I guess I will have more of a leadership role because I’m older, but I don’t think I’ll handle it too much differently.”
Though he was among the youngest baseball players on the team last spring as a sophomore, Calcutt was also among the team leaders in nearly every offensive statistical category on a Raider team that was ranked at the top of the state for much of the year and finished the regular season with a record of 24-2.
While he starts on the football and basketball teams, as Calcutt puts it, “Baseball never really stops.”
With an indoor batting cage in his house, a hitting coach, and camps all winter, Taylor has aspirations of playing Division I college baseball and is working as hard as it takes to get there.
Calcutt began playing travel ball when his father, Mark, started a coach pitch travel team. While the beginning was rough, the team stayed together until they were 15 and ranked near the top of the state.
Taylor then moved on to showcase baseball and currently plays on Rock Solid out of Wilmington.
“Over the years I’ve become better and better at it,” he says. “I’ve been working really hard at it. It’s what I want to do.”
The year-round baseball provides a challenge, however, with football season quickly approaching. For Taylor, this means a tightly packed schedule.
Some weekdays for Calcutt consist of a 5:30 a.m. workout with coach Leonard Henry, 10 a.m.weightlifting at the school, football practice at 5 in the afternoon, then summer baseball after that. His weekends are devoted to showcase baseball.
“The more repetition, the better you’re going to get,” he stresses. “The more you do something, the better it’s going to come. And I love baseball.”
The upcoming season will be different for Taylor, if for nothing else than the fact that he will no longer be among the youngest players on the field.
The early varsity exposure has given Calcutt experience and maturity that many of his peers may lack.
“It took a lot of growing up quick,” he says. “Sometimes I’ve got to overcome people telling me I can’t do stuff. People will always say you can’t do something but you’ve just got to overcome that and show them that you can.”
Through it all, though, he has maintained his grades enough to be ranked second in his class.
But while Calcutt has found success in the classroom and on the field, the one thing that has eluded him is a state championship ring.
Midway baseball dominated in the regular season last year and won their conference but the Raiders exited the playoffs far earlier than they expected with a loss 6-5 loss in the second round to South Robeson.
“Last year I think we had state championship on our minds too much,” says Calcutt. “We were number one in the state and getting a lot of attention. It got us all going and we got caught up in the moment. We didn’t realize what we had to do which is to win the next game.
“This year we need to come out, work hard, and listen to Coach (Jason Fussell) with no negative attitudes. Eventually we’ll get to where we need to be.”
It’s clear that, while he already has a few years of varsity athletics under his belt, Calcutt is just getting started. With his dedication and work ethic, he seems well on his way towards his goal of playing college baseball.
For now, however, he’s focused on helping a team that he refers to as “one tight family.”
“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing all my life,” he says. “Keep working hard, trying to be a leader, and helping the team the best I can.”