Tiffany Huddleston simply didn’t think it was a very big deal that she decided where to go to college.
The rising junior soccer player at Starkville Academy pledged her services to Mississippi State by telling Lady Bulldogs head coach Neil Macdonald in person last February. The last SA athlete that signed with Mississippi State in any sport was Jonathan McKenzie in 2008 signing a football scholarship.
“I didn’t want to toot my horn about it because I really didn’t think at the time, it was as important as it clearly was,” Huddleston said.
No need in Huddleston’s mind to broadcast the decision beyond her future coach and family.
“She committed to State back in February and I'm sure (Tiffany) just didn't tell many people about it,” Russ Huddleston, Tiffany’s father, said.
Her shyness and humble nature shouldn’t be confused on the field of play where she describes herself as a type-A competitive person.
“I think that’s something as a person I’m going to need to work on when I get to college because maybe I’m too competitive in certain things,” Huddleston said. “But whether it’s soccer or school or whatever, I feel very driven to be the best I can. That’s important to me.”
Huddleston, who scored 17 goals as a freshmen midfielder at Starkville Academy and has started for the Volunteers program since 9th grade and is coached by Robert Gardner along with former MSU midfielder Katelyn Graben. She had offers from several Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference schools including Alabama and Ole Miss.
Under NCAA rules, she will not be able to officially sign a National Letter-of-Intent with the Lady Bulldogs program until the November before her senior season of high school.
“I know this will sound strange but I asked myself a lot of questions about a wide range of things from ‘do I want to be close or far away from home’ or ‘do I want to play ACC or SEC?’,” Huddleston said. “What it also came down to is asking myself ‘would I be OK cheering ‘Roll Tide’ or ‘Hotty Totty’. I finally decided I wanted to wear maroon.”
Huddleston also competes in cross country for the Lady Volunteers and was a starter on the SA girls basketball team as a freshman.
Mississippi State is coming off a 8-12 season following its first ever winning season in 2009 but the program have not won more than two Southeastern Conference contests since 2006.
Huddleston was a part of the Lady Volunteers squad that lost the playoff opener of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA playoff contest against Presbyterian Christian but will have 21 of 22 players returning this season for a team that finished 9-7-1.
Huddleston, a resident of Maben, was part of a soccer Mississippi State Cup title for Division I soccer in Gulfport. Her team now advanced to represent Mississippi in the US Youth Soccer Region III Championships in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
“I noticed this summer on my travel team that some of my teammates hadn’t committed yet and were really nervous about playing in front of college scouts,” Huddleston said. “I kind of like having that comfort but also at the same time having something to work hard for because I’d like to step on the field and play when I get to campus at Mississippi State.”