Short and sweet
Chaffetz graduating early to get jump start on college soccer career
Taylor Chaffetz settles the ball, then taps it past a defender, pulls the ball back with her right foot and attacks another defender.
The Grand Junction High School junior’s ball skills are magical.
Years of practice have brought her to this point of her young career.
But there will not be a senior season for Chaffetz. In a way, she’s high school soccer’s version of one-and-done.
Even though she played for the Tigers as a freshman, her junior year was only her second and final season of high school soccer.
Chaffetz will graduate in December, then enroll at the University of Kansas in January.
“It’s been really fun, I love playing with them,” she said about her Grand Junction teammates after the final game of the season last week. “There’s a ton of games to be played in a short period of time, so that’s really fun. And I get to play with all my friends, so I really missed it.”
As a sophomore, she played for the Utah Avalanche elite club team in Salt Lake City.
As a high-level player who earned a scholarship to KU, Chaffetz wanted to hone her skills playing alongside other elite players.
But it was a huge challenge and not very many games.
“I just needed to get more games in. When I was playing for the Utah team, I couldn’t make (all of the) practices, then we’d have games like twice a month, so I wasn’t getting to play very many games, either,” she said. “So I decided I had to play games, and that’s why I played the high school season.”
Chaffetz ended the season with 16 goals, which led the Southwestern League and made her one of the top goal scorers in Class 5A.
“Her ball skills are so good,” Grand Junction head coach Joe Graham said. “She can create so many offensive chances for herself and the team. When she scores goals, she scores them in bunches.”
Playing games was what Chaffetz missed playing club soccer.
“It was just hard going back and forth, traveling four hours and feeling like you’re the outsider, and having to work really hard just to make playing time,” she said. “So this season was really nice to just come out and have fun.”
In the fall, Chaffetz had another lengthy drive, but this time to the east, playing for the Real Colorado club team.
Chaffetz said breaking away from the club scene was also a huge mental break. With so much travel and the intensity of the club soccer environment, she wasn’t having as much fun playing the game.
She said missing her senior year will be a little sad but she has all of her focus on jump-starting her collegiate career.
“I’ve been looking forward to going to KU, so I’m so excited,” she said.
By joining the team for the spring practice season, she will have a big advantage over other first-year players. The NCAA women’s soccer season is played in the fall.
When it came to picking a college, Kansas wasn’t her first choice, mainly because her parents both attended the university.
“So, I was like, I’m not going to KU, I do not want to go to KU, I don’t want to follow in your footsteps,” she said with a laugh.
She looked at a number of other colleges and soccer programs, then her parents talked her into visiting the KU campus in Lawrence.
That did it.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the best campus ever,’ and I just fell in love with it,” she said.
Now that her brief high school career is over, she said her final season was a lot of fun.
“It’s been a really good opportunity to just play soccer and be with my friends, so it was a great way to finish,” she said.