A banner basketball season and subsequent injury potentially helped redirect a Timber Creek graduate’s future collegiate career.
Laniya Taylor burst on to the girls basketball scene in her freshman year and took home the district Newcomer of the Year honor. She also ran on the Lady Falcons track team in that first year in high school.
But an ACL injury kept her out of her sophomore seasons in both basketball and track.
That injury, Taylor said, helped her determine to pursue signing with Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches to run track starting in the fall.
Taylor had qualified for the state track meet in her freshman year as a member of the three relay teams for Timber Creek.
And although she sat out her sophomore year to recover from the knee injury, she returned to the court in her junior year, but not the track.
“I wasn’t going to return to track until I was 100 percent,” Taylor said.
What she learned by returning to play basketball was that she was motivated by being in control of the outcome of her efforts.
“When you run, there’s no time to blame someone else,” Taylor said. “You’re not playing defense, and you have 25 seconds to cross the finish line and that’s on you.”
Not that Taylor wasn’t a team player for the Lady Falcons, as head coach Tina Demichele acknowledged Taylor as the team’s leader during the season. She was also selected as the district’s Defensive Player of the Year.
The Lady Falcons had a less than enviable basketball season, but that fact didn’t play into Taylor’s decision to focus on track. Taylor said that she received interest in smaller schools and junior colleges to play basketball.
“I was nervous coming back (to the track) but my teammates helped me out,” Taylor said. “I wanted that feeling that I didn’t get in basketball this year.”
Taylor won the district meet this year in the 200m and added the 400m, 100m and 4x400m relay as events she qualified for the regional meet. She just missed out on qualifying for the state meet in the 200m.
The 200m and open 400m will be on her collegiate plate along with maybe the 400 hurdles, Taylor said.
She’s spending the summer working out five days a week, including time in the weight room to build muscle. Taylor is also putting in mileage, as well as working with Timber Creek track coach, Dan Strong, to train for the hurdles before reporting to SFA in late August. “It’s a lot more than I’ve ever had to do,” Taylor said of her summer workout regimen.
Taylor will be joined at SFA by Falcons teammate, Taylor Terry, who is a jump specialist.
Having made the decision to focus on one sport is a benefit for Taylor, who recalls the dilemma she faced after her injury.
“How am I going to come back?” she asked herself. “It was going to be tough to get back to state (meet) expectations. I was afraid I wouldn’t be fast enough and could I get from basketball shape to track shape.”
In retrospect, Taylor said she should have taken off her junior year of basketball as well.
“My senior year has been emotional,” she said. “It’s been two years to see the hard work pay off.”
“Now that I’m doing just track, I can’t wait.”