Every year, a family in Blackwell brings in a foreign exchange student, and this year it is Thailand’s Mickey Toasaksiri who has made his way to the Big Country from nearly 9,000 miles away.
Taking in the full West Texas experience at the rural high school located about 30 miles south of Sweetwater, Toasaksiri has not only joined the Hornet football team, he’s found a role on coach Clint Lowry’s squad as a placekicker.
Lowry, who has grown accustomed to having the foreign exchange students around campus, appreciates what Toasaksiri has brought to the Blackwell community and his team — even if learning to pronounce his name has been a challenge.
This has earned his kicker the affectionate nickname “Mickey T.” And Toasaksiri’s proficiency in his new role has quickly earned him the trust of his coaches and teammates.
“The family takes in a couple of exchange students every year and he is one of them this year,” Lowry said. “It’s been interesting because we have another boy here from Spain. Last year, we had a kid from Germany and the year before that, they had a couple of girls here.”
Lowry said working with an exchange student is different, but Toasaksiri doesn’t deal with extreme language barriers despite English not being his primary language.
“He speaks English and said that (in Thailand) they have to take (English) proficiency tests,” Lowry said. “I don’t know if it has to be done before they come over or what, but he speaks English pretty well and understands it all right.”
On the field, there has been a small learning curve, but Toasaksiri, who draws on his experience as a soccer player, has been almost automatic through his first three games.
“He seems to enjoy (football) really well. The boys are good friends with him, and I think he’s having a good time,” Lowry said. “He had never kicked a football before he came here and was out at practice and one of the players asked if he would like to kick a football.”
Lowry said Toasaksiri was money from the first time he attempted a field goal in practice and that has carried over onto Friday nights.
Toasaksiri’s ability to kick has already inspired plenty of confidence in his head coach, who said he’d have no problem sending him onto the field with the game on the line late.
“He’s been real good so far this year (kicking),” Lowry said. “He hasn’t really missed many. (He’s) been pretty good and is consistent.”
Having a kicker as reliable as Toasaksiri is important in the six-man ranks as field goals are worth four points and PATs are worth two.
Learning basic rules such as these took Toasaksiri some time — and led to some fun moments on the practice field early in the year.
One such memory stands out in particular for Lowry, who recalls finding his kicker frustrated one day in practice.
“We have one of those stands that will hold the ball for a kicker and we watched him for a little bit and he’s kicking and doing good,” Lowry said. “He started getting a little flustered and when we asked him what was wrong he said, ‘Coach, I’m missing some.’
“He actually thought that when he kicked the ball, it had to go right down the middle of the uprights to be good. He was getting them through the uprights, but he thought they had to be dead center.”