“Can we role on Banks?” “Role on Coach!” This banter went on for three years with a man I am truly grateful to have met and someone who went on to shape my life after high school. Coach Jim Taylor was not only one the most prolific Track and Field coaches at Jefferson High School in Shenandoah Junction, WV, he is a man which the entire school respected.
I met Coach Taylor on the first day of track season in 1991. Being a high school sophomore, I was apprehensive about sports, feeling I could not compete with the established athletes. My perception of competition was soon changed after the first track meeting. Coach Taylor met with the boys track team and welcomed us. He didn’t saw many words, but what he did saw struck me to my core. He wanted to have fun and win.
Jefferson High School had winning in its DNA. Four consecutive Regional track trophies as well as a West Virginia State Champion, James Jett, was the resume Coach Taylor possessed. He was intense and knowledgeable about the mechanics of the sport. Aside from track and Field, he was also a teacher of Human Anatomy and Physiology.
My fondest memory was when I went to Coach Taylor one day explaining I was feeling complacent with my role on the track team. I was a shot put and discus thrower who didn’t see much success. He worked with me one on one after practice to find an event which I could excel. Hurdles, Long Jump, and Distance running were all selected. I was becoming frustrated. Coach Taylor looked at me in the eyes and told me, “Find the passion within your heart and never quit. Never allow your competition to see you defeated.”
I stuck with my event, but when I went to college, I remember those words. I walked-on to my college Track and Field team and began to see the success I looked for in high school. Every race I remembered those words and kept going strong.
After college I applied the same motivation to my professional career in retail management. So I am thankful this holiday season for Coach Taylor because he believed in me which made me believe in myself.