Poolesville High School running back Charles Lyles awkwardly stumbled and fell in excitement as he crossed the goal line for his first varsity touchdown last season.
“Oh, my baby!” his mom, Vorise Lyles, shouted from the stands. “He scored!”
“When I got up, the first thing I heard was my mom cheering,” Lyles said. “And then everything else came in. I started hearing all the fans cheering.”
Lyles, who’s averaging 154 yards per game, still hears his mom during games — whether it’s praise after big runs or worry after big hits.
“Everything I do, she’s one of my No. 1 supporters,” Lyles said. “So, everything this year, she’ll be ecstatic for me, or she’ll feel my pain.”
That Lyles can pick out his mom’s voice from the crowd is particularly amazing, considering how much he locks in during games.
Poolesville coach Will Gant said Lyles looks “almost offended” and gets “genuinely mad” when someone tackles him.
“He just gets so competitive and doesn’t want to go down,” Gant said. “He’s a fighter. He’s broken a lot of tackles, and he’s had a lot of times where he’s gotten stood up and wrapped up and stopped but not taken to the ground because he just doesn’t want to go down.”
But Lyles clarifies he’s not actually offended by tackles, and he’s replaying the previous play in his mind to consider adjustments. He’s just too focused on that exercise to control his demeanor.
“I do need to kind of think about more so how I appear because I do have to make sure that I’m not coming off mad to my team, so it doesn’t reflect badly, and they all think they did something wrong as a group,” Lyles said.
And it’s not just negatives that have Lyles tuning out the outside world.
After a dramatic win against Walter Johnson last season, a game Lyles watched from the sideline on crutches, he threw down his crutches and rushed onto the field without realizing what he was doing. Lyles still doesn’t know how he got the crutches back, but he figures someone handed them to him in the celebration. He was just too caught up in the excitement to notice.
Yet, through all the chaos during football games, he hears his mom.
Lyles admits he used to be embarrassed by what he called her “very electric personality,” especially when his teammates imitated her voice — greeting him with “Oh, hey baby” — to jokingly tease him.
“Now, it comforts me at times,” Lyles said. “If I didn’t do well, I hear her saying, ‘That’s alright, baby’ or something like that. I’m like, ‘I can do this. Nothing is stopping me. I can do better and give more the next play.’ Now, it cheers me on.”
Lyles has received interest from Bard College for football, and he’s also considering playing lacrosse in college. No matter which sport and school he chooses, he’s counting on hearing his mom at his games.
“She has a distinct voice I can hear pretty well,” Lyles said. “I can imagine that I’ll be able to, and I hope that I’ll be able to. Yeah, I hope I’ll be able to.”