Sep. 15—Hayden Buxton has no problems putting in a little work.
The McAlester senior said he's been involved with the game of football for a long time, with roots back to his days in elementary school.
"I've been playing football since about fourth or fifth grade, something like that. I feel in love with the game," Buxton said.
But, Buxton admitted that his beginnings in the game came with a learning curve — but grew into a passion.
"I think when I first started playing, it was a little bit rough," he said. "But I started liking it a lot more, started watching it, and just getting into it — it really became something I love to do."
Before heading out onto the field on game days, Buxton said his usual routine is to listen to music and get his brain focused on the night ahead.
"I like to chill and keep my head right, play some music, stuff like that," he said. "My favorite genre is country, but before a game, I usually play hip-hop and stuff, like Lil Baby."
But when he's not playing football, Buxton said he enjoys the outdoors. Between hunting, fishing, or just working on projects with his father, Buxton said he really enjoys just staying active.
In fact, it's his passion for working on things and creating with tools that he said will guide him after graduation. Buxton plans to go to a trade school, and learn a trade like welding or carpentry.
While he's not exactly sure which exact path he will take, Buxton said he's excited to try out those trades and find the one that's right for him.
Looking back, Buxton said he's grateful for the support he's received from his family. Whether it be in football or in life, he said he's always had people by his side.
"Definitely my mom and my dad. They've been there for a long time. And my uncles. One of my uncles, he's definitely into the sport. He tries to like rough me up," Buxton laughed. "He's got a couple kids that play too...so he's been there. But my dad and mom, mainly. And my grandma."
And as he prepares to wrap up his time as a McAlester Buffalo, Buxton encouraged the younger generation to continue putting in the hard work in finding something you love — just as he did all those years ago.
"It's fun, but sometimes it gets a little hard," he said. "But you've got to dig deep, and you've got to love it."
Contact Derek Hatridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.