SZN Opener is back with new episodes dropping every week. On Season 2 of this dynamic podcast series, host and noted sports analyst Monica McNutt showcases Black college athletes and explores their triumphs, challenges and aspirations along their sports journeys.
In Episode 4, Jackson State senior Kendyl Terrell opens up about grief and shares the highs and lows that led her to the women’s soccer program at Jackson State.
The Hattiesburg, Mississippi native started playing soccer at a young age. Her dad, Clemon Terrell, a star running back at Southern Miss back in the day, paved the way for the young athlete. “My dad definitely gave me the love of soccer,” Terrell says. “He gave me the love of competition.”
Terrell played six sports in high school. In addition to soccer, basketball, volleyball, track and softball, Terrell convinced her father to let her play football—making her the first female football player at Hattiesburg High School.
“Not only did I want to make a name for myself, but I wanted to build something for other little girls,” she says.
Grief shaped the woman she is today
Grief struck Terrell, her family and the Hattiesburg community when her father tragically passed in 2017. She was in high school at the time. Her father’s untimely passing was incredibly difficult to process and Terrell grappled with grief for years. But she found her way in the end.
“It was a crash and burn for me, but I wouldn’t change it for the world because it matured me into the woman I am today,” she tells McNutt. “I loved soccer because of him, but I had to realize why I love soccer (for me).”
Jackson State offered a safe space for the young athlete
After high school, Terrell played soccer at Jones College and the University of West Florida before landing at Jackson State.
Transferring to an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) was a game changer for the young athlete. “It was a life changing experience,” she says.
“It is so powerful for you to go from unseen to celebrated,” McNutt says.
The soccer standout found her voice at Jackson State, helping the team win the 2022 SWAC Conference Championship.
“It was amazing. One of the best experiences of my life was winning the SWAC championship, because I get to do it with my people. I get to do it with girls that look just like me,” Terrell says.
This year, Terrell was named SWAC Offensive Player of the Year and All-SWAC First Team Forward.
Terrell wants to make history for Black girls in soccer
The two-time All-American is not only a powerhouse on the field, she aspires to achieve something greater for her community.
“I hope history keeps being made. I hope I can continue to help change people’s lives and change the way people look at Black girls in soccer,” she says. “Being labeled as an athletic female and a soccer player are two different things to me. People should give us the respect we deserve.”
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