Haughney didn’t start acting until middle high school. He started playing football in second grade and grew up mostly playing tight end, even in high school. During his freshman year of high school, he decided to become a quarterback. But one day in his second year, he was casually throwing the ball before practice, when his coach noticed him.
“Do it again,” his coach told him. Haughney kicked again.
“Once again,” said his coach. He left again.
And that’s how Haughney found his way onto the field – as the team’s main punter. And it quickly became his specialty; he won all-conference and all-state honors at St. Peter’s Prep in New Jersey. He started clicking that playing college football was a real possibility.
“I was like, who knows?” he said. “Maybe I can do something with that.”
Although he enjoyed success throughout his career, Haughney was not a highly recruited punter. He took a look at the Division III level and he applied to other schools in the event playing college football wasn’t in the cards for him. But Holy Cross came calling and was interested in getting him on the roster. After just 20 minutes of talking on the phone, Haughney was immediately won over by the school and all the program had to offer: the academics, the elite football, the mentorship programs.
“I was like, can I commit now?” he called back.
The Holy Cross coaching staff then offered him a place as an extra. Haughney didn’t hesitate for a second.
“I called my dad and said, ‘It’s not to be discussed. We do,” Haughney said.
Haughney spent his freshman year on The Hill learning the ropes behind punter Cody Wilkinson. After Wilkinson’s graduation, Haughney stepped in as the team’s full-time sophomore punter during the COVID-shortened spring 2021 season.
“Coming into that position as a sophomore was surreal,” he said. “That’s what I had been planning for my whole freshman year – and then just going out there and having that moment.”
For Haughney, the trip was more than worth it – after starting out as an extra, he got a scholarship. He is part of a unit that has won four consecutive Patriot League titles and four consecutive playoff berths. He grew on and off the pitch, both mentally and physically. He is grateful for the connections he has made, the lessons he has learned and the chance he has to play the sport that means the world to him.
“I need football – I don’t know what I would be doing with my life if I didn’t have football,” he said. “It’s a dream come true.”