‘Last woman standing’

Only one female player in Class of 2015 still on the basketball team

Senior+Michaela+Taylor

Jaynie Sorenson

Senior Michaela Taylor

Genna Barner, Centerspread Editor

From about 40 girls in the class of 2015 who played basketball together from elementary through middle school, senior Michaela Taylor is the only one still playing the game.

As a child, basketball was a sport she enjoyed to play with friends. Taylor joined the Jackson Jets, an Amateur Athletic Unit (AAU) basketball team, in fourth grade and traveled on weekends to compete in tournaments in locations as far as Indiana.

“I don’t have a favorite thing [about basketball]. Just being on the team and the atmosphere is really good,” said Taylor. “It makes you excited for it, no matter the season.”

In seventh grade, the first chance students are able to play for a Northwest basketball team, 32 girls tried out. There were enough girls that two teams were formed.

When the girls reached eighth grade, 14 ladies played basketball, shrinking the team down by half.

“[The team] played really well together,” said middle school basketball coach Mr. Dickinson. “They were always looking to pass the ball up the floor to the open teammate on the fast break.  They were very unselfish.”

Despite their ability to work together so well, as the class of 2015 progressed through middle school and into high school, more girls seemed to lose their interest for the sport.

The participation decrease took a big part in the class’s transition into their freshmen year of high school, only six of the ladies still participated in the winter sport. Together, they all played on the girls basketball JV team.

The classes sophomore year, the six girls still all played on JV. When it came time for the 2012 district tournament, both Taylor and senior Hadleigh Buchler were pulled up to the Varsity squad, showing promise in their basketball future.

However, Buchler, along with the other girls, did not return the following season. In Taylor’s junior year, only two of the athletes remained. Senior Mikki Pahl played on the JV team and Taylor continued her career for the Varsity team.

Going into the new season, Taylor takes on a leadership role, being the only senior on the team.

“It’s really hard [to be the only player in your grade] because you feel like you have to be great and have to do good,” said Taylor. “Especially being the only senior, you’re supposed to be a leader and I feel like if I am having a bad game or bad day it falls back on me.”

Though Taylor fears having a bad performance, her former coach, Dickinson, trusts that she and the team will have positive outcomes.

“I love the improvement I see on the court from year to year and I love to watch them win,” said Dickinson. “The ladies basketball program at the high school has been very successful for many years, under the leadership of Mark Hoyt, and now Ryan Carroll.”

Dickinson finds little surprise that the MVP player of his eighth grade team is the ‘last man standing’.

“Michaela was a “gym rat”. She was always hanging around the gym.  She loved basketball even at the eighth grade level,” said Dickinson. “She was not only the best all-around player on the team, but was also one of the hardest workers.”