"I coached a few championship teams before coming to Stillwater, and there were some really motivated girls on the teams I coached before, but I've found that even with a team with more girls who are there to have fun, I enjoy it just as much," said Coach Taylor. (Craig Sanislo)
"I coached a few championship teams before coming to Stillwater, and there were some really motivated girls on the teams I coached before, but I've found that even with a team with more girls who are there to have fun, I enjoy it just as much," said Coach Taylor.

Craig Sanislo

Girls basketball team stronger than ever

January 14, 2016

The girls basketball team seems like an ordinary team at first glance, but after a while it is easy to see that they have a bond tighter than most other teams, and are led by a coach with a unique set of objectives for his team.

The Coach of the team, Willie Taylor, has been coaching basketball for 30 years and currently is in his second season at Stillwater Area High School.

“My best memory from coaching this team is last year during the quarterfinals, Mahtomedi was up by 15, but the girls worked incredibly hard to come back, and closed the gap to four. They did not win, but they had a motivation that was great to watch,” Taylor said.

Coach Taylor then explained the team’s goal. “Our main goal as a team this season is to get a home playoff game,” Taylor said.

Coach Taylor is a coach who leads by example, not only wanting to make his team better athletes, but better people.

“I try to teach some life lessons through my coaching. I try to make them understand that things like hard work and dedication pay off, not just in sports, but everything. I coach by treating my players how I want to be treated. With respect, but that doesn’t mean I am not tough on them. But they know that I coach them hard because I care,” Taylor said.

Coach Taylor then described teaching how race is not important, and how it is not a defining characteristic of people. He also explained how Stillwater is a predominantly white school, and how people’s views can be skewed.

“One lesson I have taught them, is that people are people, no matter your differences black or white,” Taylor said.

Most coaches choose to coach youth sports because they are passionate about the sport and hope to continue around the sport they love. Willie Taylor is no different in that aspect, but what is unique about him, is how he also coaches because he feels a responsibility to be a positive influence in the lives of his athletes.

I love seeing the team smile and laugh, because it just makes me smile and laugh.”

— Coach Taylor

“When I was a teenager, I was a foster kid, and I really didn’t have parents. This meant that my coaches picked up that slack and I turned to them for guidance, and they taught me right from wrong. So I do my best to pass that on to these girls and try to be the same type of influence in their lives,” Taylor said.

Coach Taylor descried his favorite part of coaching the team.

“The best part of coaching is to see how the girls grow up and mature from ninth grade to twelfth grade, because most of them, I coach for four seasons of basketball. I love seeing the team smile and laugh, because it just makes me smile and laugh,” Taylor said.

Coach Taylor’s positive coaching style has clearly rubbed off on the team.

“Something I have learned from basketball is being a team player, and how everything you do is for the team not for you,” junior Emily White said.

Another player then added what she learned from being on the team.

“I feel like basketball has taught me how to really interact with people and challenge myself to always strive for the best,” junior Chelaina Daniels said.

Some players then remembered their favorite memories of being on the team.

“The most fun part of the experience for me is team bonding. Hanging out with each other and just spending a lot of time with the team is really fun,” White said.

“Some of the best moments with the team are in the locker room before a game, or the circle after announcing the starters,” Daniels said.

However, players seem to agree that there is not just one or two aspects of the team that make it fun, instead, the whole experience.

“The entire experience is fun and there is not one specific part of it,” White said.

The success of the girls basketball team is built on a few key players, who can score a lot and lead the team.

“The best players by scoring are Sara Scalia, Rilee Day, and Claire Patterson,” Coach Taylor said.

Instead of most teams that have very specific strategies to win, the girls have clear objectives when game time comes.

“The team does well when we just knock down shots and rebound,” White said.

Emily White described how the team has changed, over the time that she has been playing.

“Last year the team didn’t feel as close, but now we’re way  more of a family and everyone is nice and inclusive,” White said.

As with any team, there are hilarious moments that no one will forget.

“During a home game Emma Murphy kicked a ball at the wall during warm ups and fell face first on the floor,” White said.

After understanding the objectives of the coach, and the unique characteristics of the girls basketball team, it is clear that they are not like every other team. They have an incredible passion for the sport, and cherish the time they spend together, on and off the court.



9 Responses to “Girls basketball team stronger than ever”

  1. Shad Kraftson on February 6th, 2016 9:17 pm

    The interview with the coach was well done. His quotes about his philosophy and his views on race added a lot to the story. Besides the coach, there was also good information on the team and players. Some info on their record or results so far would have been helpful, but it was still a good read. I hope they get that playoff home game.

  2. Shenyn Gale on February 15th, 2016 2:09 pm

    The quotes in this story were so personal and heartfelt you could almost feel the love the coach has for the team and I think that’s so sweet. This article was so team based and not just about their success on the court but the success as a team and how having that team as your family is how you become successful.

  3. Lucas Braun on February 16th, 2016 12:02 pm

    Good story Craig. Great job with the quotes, they really showed the connection the players had with the coaches and their other teammates. I liked how you showed that even though they aren’t winning very many games, they are still having fun and learning important life lessons. One thing I would say is maybe lay off the quotes just a little bit and have a few more facts.

  4. Nathan Novotny on February 16th, 2016 5:48 pm

    Good story. I like how the interview with coach Taylor went deeper with morals rather than just focus on the team. It really personalized the story and made it unique. It also made it interesting while not always talking about statistics and records. Maybe some longer quotes or some with more content to end the story off, but other than that, good job.

  5. Jared Dean on February 16th, 2016 9:13 pm

    The quotes really added to the strength and depth of the story. I liked the background information given about the coach. It added a unique dynamic to the story that I was not expecting but was pleasantly surprised by.

  6. Megan McGuire on February 16th, 2016 10:28 pm

    The quotes were definitely the strongest part of this article. The variety of people yo interviewed really made this article interesting to read. You did a good job of introducing each person and quote and really highlighted the uniqueness of the team. Overall well constructed article with good interesting information.

  7. Isabel Boedigheimer on February 17th, 2016 10:22 am

    This was a great article Craig! The quotes were a very strong aspect of it. They showed how hard they have been working and how big of an impact the coach has had. It was very well constructed and well written.

  8. Matt Johnson on February 17th, 2016 2:23 pm

    Cool that he takes what he learned as a kid from his coaches as a kid and applies it to their lives as well. Story has some great quotes and it really shows how much he cares!

  9. Zach Toohey on February 20th, 2016 3:34 pm

    I like this article for the reason that the quotes told the story rather than you just transferring information. Great job Craig! There also was a good balance between the point of views from both the head coach and the players. You gave a great perspective on how the team strives to be successful. Very well written.

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