In the vast majority of cases, quiet, humble minds who work hard usually accomplish a great deal before they even get to college.
As a three-sport athlete (softball, basketball, volleyball), a strong student in the classroom — as Key Club accolades would suggest — and as a person that gives back to the local community, as evidenced by her work in the West Little League program, one can certainly chalk West senior and three-sport athlete Taylor Coleman as one of those prime examples.
On Friday evening, Coleman was rewarded for her hard work — both on and off of the softball diamond — as the senior accepted an opportunity to join the Dave Miller-led softball program at Kentucky Christian University for the 2019 season on forward.
For the pitcher and first baseman, the opportunity to play her favorite sport at the collegiate level is, indeed, an opportunity that Coleman has been waiting for her entire life, and one that couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of her family, friends, teammates, and coaches, which include Taylor’s Mom, Dani, Mike Payne, Brittany Sessor, and Crush 18U travel ball coaches Bill Murphy and Mitch Crum, among many others.
“It’s a dream come true,” Taylor said. “Personally, I’ve worked hard to get to this point, so when I got the offer to go to KCU, I was so excited. It means so much. I couldn’t do it without my teammates and my coaches. They’ve pushed me to get to the point where I am today.”
As for Dani, the emotions of her player, her ace, and her daughter going on to fulfill a lifelong dream have Coleman’s emotions all over the map, as anyone would expect.
“I’m really proud of Taylor’s accomplishments,” Dani said. “She has worked hard over the years to make (a college softball scholarship) a reality. Her friends, fellow family members, and teammates from her high school and travel ball teams have put Taylor in a position where she can push herself.”
Over the course of her career, Coleman has grown from a contributing role player into the ace of the West staff in the circle.
That was evidenced by Taylor’s numbers this past spring, where Coleman collected a 16-10 overall mark, a 4.12 ERA, and a 1.60 WHIP for the Lady Senators while collecting 122 strikeouts for the second season in a row. In addition to her pitching exploits, Taylor also brings a solid bat to the table, as evidenced by her .343 batting average. Most of those aforementioned skills were also showcased on Murphy’s 18U Crush squad, an organization that won three of the four tournaments that it participated in over the 2017 travel ball campaign while achieving a third-place finish in national competition over the summer.
However, the Knights are not only grabbing a strong athlete, but a hard worker. Taylor’s efforts were best depicted in the Lady Senator Award that she earned, which is a prestigious award that goes to the player that shows determination, hard work, leadership on the field and in the classroom, and camaraderie with fellow teammates.
Each of the aforementioned qualities are all ones that she’s shown in spades throughout her high school softball and volleyball careers, and one that she’ll surely show when Coleman joins the girls basketball program in the fall.
“Taylor’s a quiet leader,” Dani said. “She provides leadership for us in the fact that she takes the job that she’s supposed to do, and does it without protest.”
“Hard work always pays off,” Taylor said. “It’s always about trying to be your best, no matter if you’re a freshman or a senior.”
At KCU, Coleman will get to learn from one of the more well-known softball coaches in the area as Miller, a former coach at Ashland (Ky.) High School, has led KCU to a 57-51 mark over his first three seasons as head coach after going 203-76 with five 16th Region Championships in the KHSAA realm at the helm of the Kittens. The Knights collected records of 21-9 and 30-20, respectively, in the program’s first two seasons in 2015 and 2016.
“Since Dave’s been there, Kentucky Christian has established a really good group on the ground floor,” Dani said. “He has a lot of support, and he’s a very personable coach, in general, who cares about the whole player, not just the softball version of said player. When we went to the campus, and as we met and go to know him, Taylor felt like his easygoing personality made him very easy to talk to.”
For Taylor, signing with KCU allows the senior to reunite with the very teammates that she bonded with over the summer.
“I’m excited,” Taylor said. “I’ve gotten to know some of them already from the team camps and the practices that I have attended. They’re really nice. It means so much that they came to support me on Friday at the signing, and knowing that I will be playing alongside them next year is very comforting.”
But while Taylor is excited for the possibilities that await her beginning in the Fall of 2018 at KCU, Coleman’s main concern is finishing out her last season as a high school student-athlete in a strong manner with her fellow classmates.
“We want to make it back to districts and regionals, like we did my freshman year,” Coleman said. “Hopefully, we’ll go on from there. I just want to have a winning season and have fun.”
However, accomplishing a goal — one that takes tremendous amounts of dedication, discipline, and hard work — is one that is always worthy of a celebration, no matter what time of day or year it is.
“I’ve really seen Taylor grow in maturity from playing multiple sports,” Coleman said. “The Kentucky Christian University softball program is going to push you physically, so I hope that no matter what is asked of her physically, that her studies remain her No. 1 priority, and I believe that it will. She’s doing a great job so far, but her ability to transition to the life that she will be living in college will be the biggest factor in her growth as a student-athlete.”
And with a strong support system behind her, Taylor believes that the sky is truly the limit for what can be done at KCU.
“My family and friends have always supported me, no matter what I have chosen to pursue,” Taylor said. “When I told them that I was going to go to KCU, they were so excited for me, but at the same time, they continued to push me and tell me to work hard. My parents, especially, have given me endless support and I can’t thank them enough for what they have sacrificed in order to make my dreams a reality.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7