School: Texas Hometown (Missimo): Southlake, Texas Hometown (Byars): Richardson, Texas Position (Missimo): Midfielder Position (Byars): Forward
In 2008, Lexi Missimo (left) and Trinity Byars first took the field together, as five-year-olds—born one day apart—for Solar Soccer Club in Dallas. Before they would trot the globe as phenoms, they ran circles around the grade-school competition, forming a bond of friendship and inspiring each other to greater heights.
Thirteen years later Missimo, the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2021, and Byars, the No. 2, are still sending each other crosses and working the give-and-go. They led Solar SC to two national club championships, the last coming in 2019, when they combined for 103 goals over 32 matches. They are also teammates on the U.S. U-17 national team, called up to the most recent camp in February ’20.
Byars says Missimo, an attacking midfielder, is a “creative and crafty player who always puts other players in the right position to score.” Missimo calls Byars, a forward, “a great tactical and technical mind, and the fastest player I’ve ever seen.”
After the summer of 2019, when Missimo trained overseas with Manchester City and Byars with City and Atlético Madrid, each considered turning professional out of high school. But they stuck to commitments they had made as seventh-graders to play at Texas (both have sisters attending the school) and last month they arrived on campus.
A Big 12 championship and an NCAA title—the first one in program history—top Missimo’s and Byars’s list of short-term goals, but their dream is to become teammates on the senior USWNT. And when they do turn pro, they hope they’ll still be wearing the same colors. “Anything we do,” Byars says, “we want to do it together.” —Ella Brockway
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Sport: Football Town: Little Rock
Joseph, a junior running back at Pulaski Academy, gained 205 all-purpose yards and scored four touchdowns in a 64–27 defeat of Little Rock Christian Academy in the 5A state final, securing the Bruins’ second straight title. A three-star recruit, he finished the season with 1,925 yards rushing on 189 carries, 80 receptions for 1,068 yards and 32 total TDs.
Sport: Track and Field Town: Lakeland, Fla.
Nichols, a junior at Texas Tech, took gold with a a school-record 22' 1¾" long jump—11th-best in NCAA indoor history and longest in the world this season—at the Red Raider Invitational. She won three MEAC long jump titles before transferring from Bethune-Cookman.
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At age six, Nick Woodard started jumping rope. Now, more than 20 years later, he hasn’t stopped. Woodard appeared in the Oct. 7, 2002, edition of Faces in the Crowd after he became the U.S. Grand National single rope freestyle champion as a 14-year-old. He then went on to win four more U.S. single rope titles and 14 world championships over the next decade and a half. He also competed twice on American Ninja Warrior, performed with Cirque du Soleil and has worked as a personal trainer. Now, the 33-year-old Woodard and his wife, Kaylee—the 2018 single-rope freestyle female world champ—run Learnin’ the Ropes, a program that teaches jump rope basics to youths around the Knoxville, Tenn., area. “ Says Nick, “We want to spread the sport the best way we can.” —Marcus Krum