SNOHOMISH — Riley Taylor, 17, is a senior at Snohomish High School. Teachers describe her as someone who goes out of her way to be kind.
Question: I hear you’re involved in some pretty intense sports, like lacrosse and football.
Answer: I’ve always loved football. I’m a really strong kid. My dad was coaching, so my freshman year I thought, ‘I’m gonna try it.’ I just wanted to be a kicker. I went out, I kicked a field goal, and it was awesome. I got that thrill. The guys were like, ‘Riley, Riley, Riley.’ I felt so welcomed into that football family. I got the biggest hugs from everyone. Then I just started playing on the line … The first time I was put on the line, the quarterback handed off the ball to the running back and he came right at me and I knocked him on the ground. The first time I was put in to tackle someone, I got the guy. To me, it shows how defining women is different. A girl tackled a guy in a football game. I was like, ‘Did you see that?’ … My dad stopped coaching, though. Also, my 10th grade year, Steve Bush, who was a coach, he passed away. He was like my second dad. That was really hard on me, and I didn’t really want to play football anymore.
Q: Do you still play lacrosse?
A: I play lacrosse full time. I was accepted onto a select lacrosse team in the summer. It’s my favorite thing … When I’m stressed out and when I’m sad, I go play lacrosse and it helps let out my emotions. My brother plays. My dad coaches. My mom takes pictures. It’s super cool that we’re all in it. I started practicing in fourth grade so I could play in fifth grade. I definitely want to go to a college that has a team.
Q: What activities do you do in school?
A: I’m in Lacrosse Club. I also did Breaking Down the Walls. But this is my absolute favorite thing: every Friday, a team from the leadership class gets to go spend time with the Life Skills kids. I would do that every single day of my life. We do crafts. We sing and dance. They are the sweetest kids … They all are just so kind. They want you to feel loved because they want that, too. I joined leadership my 10th-grade year. I’m the senior class vice president.
Q: And you were picked as part of the homecoming court.
A: I’m a princess. It’s super exciting. (She was chosen Homecoming Queen after this interview.)
Q: Can you tell me about #redneckprincess?
A: Oh my gosh. That’s my mom. She’s always posting stuff about me and my brother. She’s super proud of me. I feel honored to have her. I grew up in a log cabin on Lake Bosworth in Granite Falls. We owned Wintergreen Tree Farm on Machias. That’s where I got my redneck from. I loved playing with snakes. I grew up hauling trees. I drive a Ford F-150 I souped up. I love to go fishing. I love camo. I love mud. I love to get dirty. Half my senior pictures are me holding an American flag in my Romeos.
Q: What’s your goal after high school?
A: I want to go to college. I’m not sure yet what I want to do. I’ve always kind of wanted to be a teacher. I’m good at math, but I hate math, even though it just clicks for me. I’d like to be an English teacher or do something with leadership.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I love my dog. Her name is Ninja. She’s the best dog on the planet. When I’m sad, she knows. She comes and cuddles up with me … My dad lives in Lake Stevens and my mom is in Granite, so I travel back and forth a lot. I love my job. I’m an aide at NorthSound Physical Therapy in Lake Stevens. I help people with their exercises. I like to help people, so that job is super cool for me. I love swimming, and I love hiking. I like to hang out with friends, and watch football and lacrosse.
Q: What would your advice be to other students?
A: It’s super easy to be nice. Some people just don’t do that. Every day for a while now, I’ve held the doors open after second period with my friend. Just say ‘thank you’ and ‘please.’ At least smile at someone. I see a lot of kids in the halls with their heads down. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life … It takes so little to just look at them and smile.
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.