Local basketball fans should get used to seeing Ithaca High senior Taylor DePalma wearing red.
She might be part of the Little Red now, but the 5-foot, 6-inch captain of the Ithaca High School girls basketball team is about to make the jump from Little to Big as she enters the home stretch of her high school basketball career. Next fall, she will start a new chapter as a member of the Cornell women’s basketball team.
DePalma is closing an impressive high school career, but it was not easy. After leading the team in scoring both her freshman and sophomore seasons, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament and missed her junior year.
But thanks to help from her father, Bernie DePalma — the Doc Kavanagh Head Athletic Trainer at Cornell — she did everything right on her road to recovery and she claims her knee is 100 percent. With her team preparing for its Section 4 Class AA semifinal matchup Friday night at top-seeded Horseheads, a team to which the Little Red has twice lost to this season, now would be the perfect time for her to shine.
In this week’s edition of “Five Questions,” we ask DePalma about her recovery, the playoffs, and why she chose Cornell.
How has this season gone and what are you hoping for against Horseheads?
It has definitely been a long season, but I think everybody is coming together and for some of us this will be the last time playing together. I definitely think I want to enjoy the last little bit and do the best that I can. … Horseheads is definitely really, really good. But we are all looking to play as hard as we can and put everything together that we have learned all season. So hopefully we can all put that together.
What kind of influence has your father had on your career?
He has always been there for me. Our connection was really special during that injury and he is always there to give me advice and coach me, and that has definitely helped me grow as a player. He tells me what I am doing right and what I can get better at.
How hard was it to sit and watch last season?
It was hard because it was like it was just taken from me. I couldn’t choose or decide, and it was really painful and long. That was hard because I like playing basketball and I like staying active and doing stuff. With this particular injury, it was four months before I could even run again so I felt like I didn’t have much to do.
What motivated you to start your website (www.tdepalma31.com)?
I put up the website to get stuff out to college coaches. I will be going to Cornell next year and I will be playing basketball there. I specifically did that because I wanted to play in college and I thought that was the best way to go.
What made you choose Cornell?
I wanted to play at the highest level that I can. I really like the coaches at Cornell and I have known them for a long time, and they have a great program. I met with the girls a couple of times and they are all really nice. I am also excited about the academic part. I will be studying applied economics management so I am really excited about getting that education.