Mary Mahan, Contributing Writer
Growing up in a small town in Oconee County, S.C., Morgan Todd grew up riding horses with her sister. As a young girl, she began playing softball in the 4th grade. Since then Todd’s love for sports and athleticism has only continued to grow.
Todd started playing softball because she was new to the area and a close friend of hers was playing. She wanted to make friends and get to know the girls she would be going to school with. She quickly learned to love softball for the sport that it is instead of just a place to make friends. Todd commented, “I started it because my best friend was playing, but ended up falling in love with the competition of it.”
She and her coaches both quickly realized that she was best at base running. Along with being fast for a softball player, she was able to predict when the pitcher was about to throw, which gave her a head start on running to the next base. Todd stated, “I was really fast, so I guess that Iwas naturally good at it.”
In high school, Todd played school ball and in the summer she played with a travel ball team. She took every opportunity that presented itself to play softball.
Todd decided to major in nursing at the University of South Carolina after she graduated. She made the decision to not play softball for USC with the reasoning of not wanting it to interfere with her studies.
As Todd began studying at USC she realized quickly that she missed the competitive nature that sports had brought to her life in the years before leaving for college. She started searching for club sports that would allow her to have the comraderie and competitiveness of sports back in her life, but not be too time consuming as to take away from her vigorous nursing classes.
Todd could not decide on a sport to play and most of the tryouts for the fall club teams were coming quickly to a close. On night, she was over at a friend’s house when their parents turned on a woman’s rugby game. Having never watched a game before, Todd was intrigued. She loved seeing women playing such a high contact sport, when most sports that are such high contact are predominately male. She stated, “I remember thinking that they all the women looked so fit. I didn’t want to gain the freshman-fifteen everyone always talked about. So I was like, ‘what the heck? Why at least not try out.’”
She began playing rugby with that same mindset of wanting to meet new people on campus, but now had the drive to continue playing a sport and wanting to keep off the pounds that living on your own for the first time can sometimes bring. Her position on the club team was the flank. Flanks are in charge of quite literally flanking the forwards and assisting in pushing in a scrum. Flanks are more times than not the fastest forwards on the team and are in charge of a lot of the major tackling. So it’s no surprise that Todd shared this, “My friend’s dad who was a Marine played rugby as a flank and told me that it’s the hardest working position on the field. I was like ‘fantastic.’”
Although Todd loved learning a new sport and making new friends, she began to dislike the culture that came along with a club sport at a public state college. She decided she didn’t want to continue playing the game and being exposed to everything that came with it. Instead she took up Air Force ROTC.
Because Air Force ROTC worked out in the early mornings, it didn’t conflict with her busy school schedule. She was able to do her physical training and continue taking her nursing course load. Aspiring to do something honorable and challenging, she threw herself into each physically demanding exercise including hundreds of push-ups, “I was expecting for all the new drills to get me, but all the push-ups were killer.”
Todd said that it was different for her to go from playing on teams all made up of females to training with both genders. Most cadets in her class were male but she stated that, “I never felt oppressed or left out. I was just honored to participate.” Over time, the class of ROTC began to take up more of her time away from her studies and she had to choose between her love of athleticism and comradery or her education. In the end, she chose her education and had to bow out of Air Force ROTC.
Having to step down out of the Air Force program really took a toll on Todd. She became depressed and longed for some way to get out of her own head. She again began searching for clubs that wouldn’t take time away from her studies and that would allow her to let out her frustration and keep her fit. She found boxing to be that answer.
With the boxing gym only minutes from her house, Todd was able to fit the USC boxing club perfectly into her schedule. Although she has only been boxing for a few months now, Todd feels that she’s finally found her niche. She is now able to box out her frustrations and thoughts all the while staying fit.
Again she found herself in a club that was more male dominated. In most sports today, men are viewed as the stronger gender, and Todd agrees saying, “I mean it’s biblical. Right there in 1 Peter but, I feel beautiful when I box; I feel empowered. I don’t need to be stronger than a man to do that.”
Todd shared that her family had always supported her in her athletic endeavors, but “but I was so proud to tell my family that I was playing such an empowering sport.”
The genuine athlete that it is Morgan Todd has worn many hats over the years, but for now and the foreseeable future, the boxer hat she shall wear.