All American Marauder

Senior+Taylor+Roof+inbounds+the+ball+in+a+game+against+Plano+Easton+Jan.+30.+The+Marauders+won+the+game+69-57.+

William Legrone

Senior Taylor Roof inbounds the ball in a game against Plano Easton Jan. 30. The Marauders won the game 69-57.

Senior Taylor Roof’s cell phone lit up as she received a text. She passed her phone to her sister, Mikayla, to read the message. Neither anticipated that she had just been recognized as one of the nation’s top high school athletes.

Taylor looked at the 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game nominee roster in disbelief. Her name was listed among the elite high school basketball players in the nation. Her hard work has always paid off, but it has never been anything compared to this.

“I couldn’t believe that I had been nominated for it,” Taylor said. “It was just such a great honor.”

She began her sports career as a softball player and took up basketball just as conditioning practice during the offseason. But she quickly recognized her aptitude for basketball and decided to leave softball. She knew basketball would not only challenge her as an athlete but would also give her more opportunities.

“Eventually when I got on a select team and played over the summer, it definitely became more intense because I knew I was doing it to get a scholarship. But it’s always been fun for me,” Taylor said.

As a seventh-grader at Briarhill Middle School, Taylor’s skill level secured her a position on the 8th grade A-team. This feat contributed to her making varsity basketball as a freshman.

But in her first year of high school basketball, she suffered an ankle injury that would act as a major obstacle for many games. Taylor’s rolled ankle took her out of action for about eight weeks and came with a troublesome recovery. She worked to rebuild strength in her ankle, and eventually she returned to the game with a vengeance.

“I had to get used to the pain that came with it in the early stages of playing,” Taylor said. “I’ve gotten used to it, and I’ve been able to play with it, no problem.”

Although she returned to the court, Taylor was worried that she would not be able to contribute to the team until she fully recovered. But she used that experience to fuel all of her future efforts. Mikayla recalls Taylor’s disappointment and said she has become a stronger player because of her injury.

“It was hard for her because she really wanted to play,” Mikayla said. “She was a freshman. She came in and wanted to start strong, but she had a setback.”

Despite having to to wear an ankle brace and attend about eight weeks of therapy, Taylor’s performance in her high school career led to her nomination as a McDonald’s All-American, a boy’s and a girl’s basketball game comprised of the country’s best high school talent.

Her name was submitted by state representatives on a selection committee. The game began in 1977, and a girls’ division was created in 2002. The same honor Taylor received has been given in past years to LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, Magic Johnson and Marcus Smart. Taylor said she wasn’t expecting the nomination, so the news came as a surprise.

“It’s always a goal to be acknowledged and honored, but I wasn’t working for it,” Taylor said. “I was just trying to be the best player I can be.”

The ability to play at the level of a McDonald’s All-American nominee came not only through personal hard work, but from motivation from Taylor’s teammates and family. When the news of her selection came, Taylor’s parents were the first to recognize all of her hard work.

“My biggest supporters are my family, but most definitely my parents,” Taylor said. “They’ve been through it all, and they have encouraged me to work hard, and they’ve pushed me so I could get a scholarship.”

Taylor’s determination to get a scholarship paid off when she was accepted to the University of North Texas. As college quickly approaches, she said she is excited to continue her passion, and play basketball in college. Playing at UNT will give her the opportunity to cultivate her skills and become an even stronger competitor. Though she would like to play professionally, she knows there are few opportunities and is interested in pursuing biomedical engineering.

As a nominee for the McDonald’s All-American Games, Taylor said it has been a humbling experience.

“Just being up there with all the other girls, because I’ve played with them, and I know they are such amazing players,” Taylor said. “Just to have that opportunity to have my name up there with them is such a good feeling.”