At home in Aledo, Texas, Camy Huddleston and her siblings don’t play baseball how most people do; they play tackle baseball.
It is Huddleston style.
At times, the game became a little too intense and wild, so some things changed.
“We aren’t allowed to use baseballs anymore,” Huddleston said. “We have overthrown too many times and hit windows and broken things. So, it is more like kick balls, soccer balls or basketballs. Something not as hard.”
She doesn’t get to play tackle baseball with her siblings anymore, though, as Huddleston plays soccer at Oklahoma State.
Leaving her family to go to college might have been the hardest decision Huddleston has made in her life.
A freshman forward, Huddleston grew up in a large family. She developed a special bond with her parents and six siblings, including two half-brothers and one half-sister, but none more than the relationship with her younger sister Cheney Huddleston, 16.
“She became my best friend,” Huddleston said. “… It is awesome to have someone who is always there for you. That is the hardest part about being in college, missing my little sister.”
Sharing a room with Cheney, Huddleston said she became a second mother to her crazy little sister. Lynn Johnson, their mother, said the family has an entertaining atmosphere. She said it has a lot a lot of unique and adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder types, or ADHD, but she finds the culture interesting and funny.
She said the family has a centered sense of specific morals, though.
“Within that construct, we have a lot of randomness and unusualness and also bizarre behavior,” Johnson said. “Not mean, but funny.”
Huddleston said when someone tells Cheney she won’t do something, she does it without hesitating.
“Once we told her, ‘You won’t steal this cone,’” Huddleston said. “We were in a moving car, she opens the door and steals the cone. … Another time we went to the mall, and she goes, ‘Would you be mad if I poured this water bottle all over you.’ I said, ‘Probably not.’ Then, she pours the whole thing in the middle of the mall.”
Johnson said when Cheney was born, Huddleston felt the responsibility to take care of her little sister. Huddleston helped Cheney through learning disabilities, including difficulties with paying attention, reading and writing.
“In that process, they became best friends and inseparable,” Johnson said. “Camy is the literal big sister and helps keep her younger sister in check. They love and idolize each other.”
Cheney said Huddleston gives her so much advice and puts her over anyone else. She said when she was little, Huddleston would buy her things just to make her happy.
Cheney said she and her older sister are extremely close and would spend almost every second together, playing games and cracking jokes.
“We are like milk and cookies,” Cheney said. “We just go together.”
Hearing the comparison, Johnson immediately started laughingly uncontrollably. She said she thinks so, too.
“They are really similar; they complement each other,” Johnson said. “They can bring out the best in each other. Cheney is funny and pushes the limits, and Camy keeps Cheney responsible and on task.”
Nothing but physical and competitive
Huddleston plays games in unconventional ways with her family. Physical and competitive are how things go.
Johnson said the family plays many games inside and outside the house, including capture the flag, soccer and tackle football. However, tackle baseball might be the most unique.
It is a free-for-all.
Let’s say Huddleston is up to bat. If she puts the ball in play, a defender can knock her down while another will run to retrieve it, so she can’t score. If a player is running toward a base and someone is in the way, running through her is legal. It is preferred.
For an out to be recorded, a player must have the ball and tackle the runner or try to throw it and peg her.
That is how the siblings like it.
“It is just a part of our game,” Huddleston said. “You gotta get over that. … It feels good when they fall over and they just lay on the ground because you are thinking, ‘Victory.’
“If you miss, that is super embarrassing because they get a free run around the bases.”
Only Huddleston, Cheney and Kendall Huddleston, the oldest sister, play the aggressive game. One person bats, another chases the ball and the other tackles. Cheney said she loves it because she gets to tackle her sisters.
Huddleston said every game the family plays has transformed into something more physical, especially baseball.
“All of our games just evolve,” Huddleston said. “It started out as baseball, but we got rowdy one day and it became more fun. Then, we started developing rules. All the games started out with the actual way you are supposed to play it but evolved into our own Huddleston version of it.”
Jaci Jones, a sophomore midfielder, also has a big family. She has four siblings who play sports, including Lexi Jones, a senior on the Oral Roberts women’s soccer team.
Jones said she understands how rough things can get.
“You have no idea,” Jones said. “…We all played soccer and are supercompetitive. … I don’t ever want to lose to them in anything.”
Rivalries exist within all competitive siblings. In the case of tackle baseball, Huddleston said she always wins against her little sister.
Cheney doesn’t seem to think the same. She said she wins all the time and Huddleston is lying. Cheney described their rivalry.
“She is like a square.” Cheney said. “I am like a rectangle. Rectangles beat squares. … You always see a square and are like, ‘Ugh,’ but when you see a rectangle, you say, ‘Oh, I like that rectangle.’”
Their debate might never be settled, but that is how it works.
Big house with no lamps in sight
Living in a three-bedroom, four-bathroom house on 18 acres, Huddleston doesn’t have some of the struggles many large families have. There was enough space for Huddleston, Cheney, Kendall and Kallyn Huddleston, another sister.
Her half-brothers Erik and Brian, who are in their 40s, don’t live in the house. Her half-sister Bethany, who is in her 30s, did off and on.
With her mom a lawyer and judge, and Ed Huddleston, her dad, also a lawyer, there is always food. Huddleston said it runs out quickly, so everyone runs to the dinner table to grab as much food as possible.
There are many chores to be done, Huddleston said. Everyone helps.
Huddleston takes care of the yard work, mowing as much of the 18 acres as she can. She does it with a push mower. She said it is a workout, saying she usually mows continuously for at least three hours.
“It got me in shape,” Huddleston said. “I would sweat so much when I did it.”
She said there isn’t a working lamp, which she thinks is the funniest thing about the house. Johnson laughingly agreed, and said they are all gone because the kids love to play soccer and kickball inside.
Huddleston said there are lamps, technically, but none work.
“All of my sisters have perfectly balanced them, so they don’t look broken,” Huddleston said. “But, if my mom goes over to clean them, it shatters down. We have broken so many lamps. My mom knows that there are no working lamps in the house.”
Away but not forgotten
Huddleston said having so many friends is the best thing about a large family.
“I love it,” Jones said. “I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Even when I think about my future family, because I came from a big family, I want to have a big family, as well. You just always have a built-in friend; there is always someone there.”
Johnson said when Huddleston decided she would play soccer in college, she talked with her about not going too far. She wanted Huddleston, as with her older siblings, to stay within a five-hour radius. OSU is on the edge of that limit.
Depending on which route driven, it takes four hours and 15 minutes to five hours to get from Aledo to Stillwater. Johnson said she was OK with the decision.
“She liked the feel of OSU and its values seem to fit the upbringing she had and the small town feel she grew up in,” Johnson said. “That is why she picked it; she liked the coaches really well, she liked the program and she loved the community.”
OSU coach Colin Carmichael said he knew quickly that Huddleston would be a great student-athlete. He said when Huddleston came on her recruiting visit, Cheney came, too.
He said he saw the fun-family dynamic and ultracompetitive nature within.
“(Competitiveness and being positive) are two attributes we look for when recruiting,” Carmichael said. “It is not to diminish her soccer ability. She’s a good player. … Her smile is infectious. She is bubbly all the time. She is a great character to have around.”
The decision left Cheney five hours away from her big sister, though.
Cheney said things were difficult, at first. She missed her big sister, second mom and best friend. Jokingly, she said she didn’t miss Huddleston.
“Well, yes, I do,” Cheney said. “At first, I did, but now I am kind of used to it. … Now, we are like cookies and peanut butter. Sometimes we go together and sometimes we don’t.
“… I wanted the best for her. I also wanted her to be close to home, so I could visit her because I love her.”
Huddleston said Stillwater was on the bubble of surpassing how far away she was willing to go. She said choosing OSU wasn’t difficult in a soccer sense, but it was challenging leaving Cheney and the rest of her family.
She said family means everything to her.
“It trumps everything in my life,” Huddleston said. “All of your values come from your family, so basically your family is who you are.”