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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Sports > General

20/20 on 2020 senior athletes: Monticello's Drew Taylor

May 18, 2020

By Richard Ross - reporter/photographer

Drew Taylor
MONTICELLO- “I want to keep pushing the limits to see what's possible,” averred Lindsey Vonn, four-time World Cup overall ski champion and 2010 Downhill Olympian gold medalist. Vonn added, “That's the nice thing about ski racing -- no one is stopping you from going faster. If you go around being afraid, you're never going to enjoy life. You have only one chance, so you've got to have fun.”
Monticello Senior Drew Taylor, a four-time state contender totally embodies Vonn's credo about pushing herself to new limits as well as the abrogation of fear about catapulting down daunting ski slopes.
“The only time I feel apprehension is in the starting gate.
As soon as I go it is with determination and aggression,” she attests about the sport she has reveled in since age four.
Taylor has grown to love living on the edge, racing with confidence and the indescribable exhilaration she feels while evincing startling acuity in the sport that makes her heart race.
Her introduction to ski racing began in eighth grade when she was put on the Monticello varsity Alpine ski team and did well in her very first race.
Describing herself as “a perfectionist,” she quickly aspired to forge ahead and compete both with her own prior times as well as against the older members on the team. Her mom was a ski instructor at Holiday Mountain and key in Taylor's early instruction.
“I always wanted to make beautiful turns like her,” she said. “She's been my greatest sports inspiration.”
Her dad Michael would get up with her at 5:30 in the morning, have breakfast at Tilly's Diner and head to Plattekill Mountain on the weekends.
“We connected on a different level,” she notes while remembering her dad's perspective that sports won't be all there is in life.
Taylor relishes skiing immensely. “It's just me and the slopes,” she says describing the rush of the experience. Taylor never had a lesson and yet made sectionals every year and state championships held at Bristol Mountain and Gore. “At Plattekill Mountain I got to ski with kids from the Roxbury School District and their inspiring coach Joe Hinkley. Some of those kids had Olympic aspirations at one time. It was a great learning experience.”
Sometimes the slopes at Belleayre, Hunter Mountain, Plattekill or Holiday Mountain can be quite icy. “I like the challenge of skiing the east, the icy part of the country. If you can ski on ice you can ski anyplace,” she says laughingly. “Skiing is an extreme sport which I look forward to most of the year.”
Taylor prefers the Giant Slalom races with the greater speed and bigger turns around the gates. She uses larger skis than the ones she deploys on the Slalom courses through gates that are closer together.
Taylor is heading to Marist College in Poughkeepsie to study Business Administration. She took part in the Academy of Finance program and interned at Combined Energy Services, which is owned by her dad. At Marist she plans to be involved with club skiing. They practice at Plattekill. Skiing has been a family enterprise.
Both Michael and Taylor's mom Joanna are skiers. The family has traveled west and skied in Breckenridge, Colorado. Taylor derives unbridled joy from the skiing experience. Finishing in the mid-range of state competitors makes her proud.
“After alI, I grew up on the relatively diminutive slopes of Holiday Mountain while many other elite skiers had more challenging hills to navigate. Skiing is something I'll do for the rest of my life,” she asserts.
One might imagine that an athlete with such a passion for a sport would have a singularity of purpose. Not Drew Taylor.
Add soccer and her equestrian pursuits as a Hunter jumper to the mix to better appreciate this young woman's joy in competing. Taylor got her start in AYSO. Her mom was a collegiate soccer player at Morrisville who conveyed her love of the sport. That said, Taylor joined modified soccer more for the friendships than because of an inherent love of the game. That was until she fell within the purview of coach Gerardo Martinez.
“I began to realize how good I was,” she recalls. Martinez's positive influence forged a love of the game. In ninth grade she moved up to varsity as a defender. That year she joined Liberty United to prepare for the size and speed of the game at the varsity level. “I loved to be on the field working together. Skiing is more of an individual enterprise.”
Her sophomore year on varsity under Coach Martinez was the team's high-water mark. That year Taylor got to play with exchange student Claudia Morenos Marcos and other talented girls. Taylor has been a team captain since then.
Horses have been a part of Taylor's life seemingly forever. Her mom grew up on a horse farm and Taylor quickly inherited her love for horses. She started showing horses at age six and currently competes as a Hunter Jumper. Competitions have taken her to Saugerties, Syracuse and Vermont.
She rides as part of the Brock Edge Farm Circuit. At the Marshal Sterling Finals held in Saugerties, she finished sixth. She took pride in being in the top ten.
“I just appreciate the opportunities that sports have afforded me. She is eternally grateful to her parents, her coaches and trainer that have inspired her. Her horse, Briar, currently lives in a barn nearby but will soon be coming home. “I love having that connection with an animal,” she avers. Riding involves muscle memory, patience and assertiveness. Her trainer Debbie Norris has been instrumental in what Taylor describes as being, “at the top of my game.”
While she's never been seriously injured from a fall, one time being thrown was momentarily scary. “Norris assessed her condition and encouraged to “get back on.”
Setbacks in this enterprise or the other sports for that matter never stop Taylor. She is a scholar athlete and Monticello's selection to that Section 9 honor.
Excellence and character as well as the sheer joy of doing her best define Drew Taylor. “I've learned that being a perfectionist was my worst nightmare. The key is to keep learning and apply that to make yourself better. I've become more competent, someone who sets goals to be the person I wanted to be proud of, the person I've become,” says Taylor.
Determined, confident, thick-skinned, a leader and an intense athlete, Drew Taylor exemplifies Lindsey Vonn's values of striving to excel, eschewing fear, having fun and most of all enjoying life to the fullest. On the ski slopes, on the soccer pitch, in the saddle or in the classroom Drew Taylor exemplifies the idea that when hard work, relentless effort and joy combine, there are no limits to what one can do nor the joyous rewards that can be accrued therein.

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