THORNVILLE – Emily Taylor was playing softball in eighth grade when she was encouraged to give track and field a try.
The move was rewarded Friday when the Sheridan senior signed her letter of intent to throw for the University of Akron with her parents, Tony and Tara, and coaches, Doug Cattran, Jason Garver and Bart Smith, by her side at the high school.
Taylor will receive a partial athletic scholarship and a book stipend as well as academic scholarships.
“Coach Garver was my teacher in middle school, and he and Coach Smith pushed me towards track, and I loved it,” she said. “I’m thankful they’re willing to work with me in the summer and fall. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Division II universities, Tiffin and Grand Valley State, were among other places Taylor considered. The opportunity to compete in Division I and follow another Sheridan graduate, Stevi Large, pushed Taylor to become a Zip.
Large won a national title in the hammer throw in 2009 for Akron.
“I want the challenge of that level,” said Taylor, who will major in nursing. “They have a great nursing program and a great track and field team. They’re reputation with athletics and academics is why I chose them.”
Taylor won the district title in the shot and was the district runner-up in the discus. She went on to place third in the shot and sixth in the discus at the regional then finished 15th in the shot at the state meet.
She is also aiming to reach Large’s school record in the shot of 45-0 1/2. Taylor’s personal best is 39-8.
“I’m playing basketball now, but I’m hoping to compete in some indoor meets,” she said. “I’m going to stay focused and look to improve. I would like to break Stevi’s record.”
Garver, Sheridan’s throws coach, believes Taylor’s approach and skills can help her succeed at the college level.
“She reached this point because she works hard and is dedicated and competitive,” he said. “Our school has been able to send athletes on this level for those reasons, and she will be a good representative of the Sheridan community.”