PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — Taylor Washington, a defender for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer team, says he keeps God at the center of his life and that even during games when he’s in a competitive mindset, he’ll often pray a Hail Mary or a Glory Be.
“Why I’m so strong is because of Christ,” he said. “Everything that he’s done for me and all the blessings I’ve received in my life are because of him. At times, it’s overwhelming. I just have to give thanks.”
Washington attends daily Mass and goes to confession. Before games he reads Scripture passages and prays a St. Jude chaplet. And before stepping onto the field, he says a prayer to St. Michael for protection.
That wasn’t always the case, though. Washington, who was raised Catholic in Somers, New York, attended Mass with his parents on Christmas and Easter and maybe a few other times during the year. He developed more of an appreciation of his faith during Catholic school but by the time he was a freshman at Boston University, where he played on the Division I soccer team, religion had little or no part in his routine.
“God wasn’t the center of my life and he might have been the last thing that I would resort to,” he told the Pittsburgh Catholic, diocesan newspaper. “Only if I was in a tough situation would I pray. I felt completely lost. I was having a lot of success on the soccer field at that time.”
But he was also struggling with a 1.7 grade-point average, suffering with mononucleosis and a diagnosis of dyslexia. He wanted to break out of this torment, but really wasn’t sure how to do so.
The sign he needed came one random afternoon as he sat in an empty classroom on campus.
“I remember sitting at a desk — I can’t make this up — and I saw a gold light. The weight of everything was just lifted off of me. I hadn’t thought about church and I hadn’t gone in forever, but I just felt compelled to go to church and I didn’t miss a Sunday Mass after that.”