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Cabell Midland High School’s Olivia Charles wins 2023 recipient of the Doug Huff Award


 For the W.Va. Sports Writers Association

 ONA, W.Va. — Olivia Charles is known for her toughness on the soccer and football fields.

 The Cabell Midland High School senior kicker is quick to remind that behind the facemask and under the shoulder pads she’s a girl.

Olivia Charles (12) of Cabell Midland is the winner of the Doug Huff Award presented by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association

 That’s why she termed her latest endeavor a celebration of “the beauty and femininity in sports.”

 Charles headed a National Women in Sports Day Feb. 1 at the Marshall University Memorial Student Center, raising more than $3,000 for Branches, a domestic violence shelter in Huntington.

 “Branches is wonderful,” Charles said. “They do so much to help women.” Charles led the quest to collect diapers, socks, shampoo, conditioner and body wash, among other items. “It was very exciting,” Charles said.

Charles, who signed to play soccer at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., is the 2023 recipient of the Doug Huff Award for a state high school senior student-athlete who exhibits leadership, hustle and determination. The honor is named for longtime W.Va. Sports Writers Association secretary-treasurer Doug Huff, who is a national high school sports historian and the only state media member inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame.

 She will be honored at the 76th annual Victory Awards Dinner on May 7 at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.

 Charles is the all-time leading female scorer in high school football history in the United States. She scored more than 200 career points for Cabell Midland’s football team and 133 goals for the Knights’ girls soccer squad.

 She accomplised those feats despite a broken pelvis that sidelined her during her sophomore year. The injury brought her to tears because she looked forward to playing with her sister Emilie, the state’s all-time leading soccer goal scorer, and a mentor to her.

 “That was heartbreaking,” Olivia said. “I was really upset for two weeks and was pretty much down in the dumps.”

 Determined, Charles worked diligently to bounce back strong and earn first team all-state honors in soccer.

 “It was a struggle,” she said. “It was hard but something to overcome.”

 Off the field, Charles is different from most teenagers. On the field, she’s just one of the players.

 “She fits right in with us,” Cabell Midland football coach Luke Salmons said. “She’s tough. She works hard. She’s a big part of our team. She wouldn’t be out there if she couldn’t handle it.”

 Her football teammates are protective of her, but in soccer, Charles is on her own. She’s often double and triple-teamed. Physical play is nothing new to her.

 “It’s a little frustrating, but it feels good that they respect me enough to do that,” Charles said.

 Devout in her Christian faith, Charles said God helped her through the injury. A lesson she learned from that was the need to give back to the community and beyond. Currently, she’s collecting soccer cleats for girls in Liberia.

 A list of annual WVSWA awards may be found on the website.

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