Student shines on multiple playing fields
Max Oldham is getting a rare opportunity this season: he is a member of two playoff teams.
Oldham is a member of Bowling Green High School’s football and soccer teams. This is the junior’s second season as a dual athlete. He is the starting kicker for the football team and plays defense for the soccer team.
As a member of the soccer team, Oldham played in the state championship game against St. Xavier. As a member of the football team, he is currently involved in the Purples’ quest to make it to the state championship.
He used to get nervous before games, but now “it’s second nature.”
Oldham doesn’t think he would be the kicker he is without his holder, J.P. Jackson, and the blocking line. “They make my job a lot easier.”
He said some of the other players give him grief about the rankings. “It really doesn’t matter to me, they are just numbers,” Oldham said. “I would like to stay in first.”
Outside of practice, Oldham watches NFL and college games and observes the kickers on those teams. “I rewind and fast forward to see what they’re doing,” he said.
He also tapes and watches his own kicks to see what needs to be corrected. “I’m determined to be the best.”
Right now, he is.
Oldham had to choose between soccer and football three times this year. He chose football because “there are no extra kickers.” Oldham said both the soccer and football coaches appreciate his commitment to both teams. “I’m thankful to have two coaches who understand my schedule,” he said.
His schedule when both sports are in session includes two hours of soccer and one and a half of football every day. During the summers, he has both football and soccer practices twice a day, four days a week, meaning he is practicing sports six hours a day. “It demands a lot. It’s tiring,” he said.
He was recently selected for the all-SKY conference second team, so his soccer season hasn’t ended yet.
Oldham has been playing soccer since he was four. He played tackle football briefly between the ages of 9 and 11, but only got back into it two years ago when the kicker asked him to come to a practice.
He said he likes both sports about the same, but there are differences. In soccer, he plays defense, but “I score points in football,” he said. Oldham feels more pressure when he is kicking. “You get a chance to make up for a mistake in soccer. Everyone sees [a mistake] in football.”
But being on the soccer team has other advantages. Oldham feels closer to his soccer teammates than the football team. He credits this difference to the amount of players on each team. There are around 20 players on the soccer team, one fifth of the amount of football players. In football, “you don’t have time to know everyone.”
He credits his father with helping him keep his schedule in order and getting him to all his practices. His parents and his grandfather, legendary Western coach John Oldham, are present at all of his football games.
“It was easier this year, and I’m sure next year it will be even easier,” Oldham said.
He hopes to continue playing football and soccer in college, but thinks he would pick football if he had to choose. “In football, there’s more opportunity. I have a better chance of playing,” he said.
Until then, Oldham will continue to be a dual athlete. “I get a month off in December and then football conditioning starts up. There’s no rest for the weary.”