In his first season on varsity, Jake Taylor, 13, notched 22 points in Suffolk County High School Division I Lacrosse.
Mastic Beach, NY - September 15, 2017 - Being the only eighth grader on last year’s William Floyd High School varsity lacrosse team may have been intimidating for some, but not for Jake Taylor, a 5’ 7” attackman who has never let adversity stand in his way.
In his first season on varsity, Taylor, 13, notched 22 points (nine goals and 13 assists) in Suffolk County High School Division I Lacrosse, arguably the toughest public school league in the country. His performance on the field for the Colonials earned him a slot on the Long Island Lacrosse Showcase team last June, an honor that puts him among the top 20 players in all of Suffolk for his age. He also plays for Legacy Lacrosse under the leadership of his father, Coach Mike Taylor, in which he had the amazing opportunity to compete at Mile High Stadium, the home of the National Football League’s Denver Broncos, in the World Series of Youth Lacrosse for two consecutive years. Legacy won the World Series in 2016.
These accomplishments for an eighth-grader are something to celebrate by themselves, but when one learns that Jake was born with club feet and hip dysplasia and that doctors said he would never be able to play sports, they become remarkable.
“I never even knew about my feet and hip until recently when I found my old casts and braces in my bedroom closet,” said Jake. “I began playing lacrosse, soccer and football at an early age and my parents didn’t think I should know. I had to wear orthotics in my sneakers but I didn’t think it was anything major.”
Jake details how his parents have always been very supportive in helping him to reach for and achieve his goals. “My parents have always pushed me past my limits, so I knew I could do more and more. They knew my injuries were not going to stop me from achieving what I set out to accomplish,” he said.
With his dad being a successful coach at the youth, high school and college levels for more than 25 years, and his brother, Noah, a sophomore and Colonial teammate earning “Rookie of the Year” accolades as a freshman with 17 goals and 27 assists – excelling at sports runs in the family.
But it hasn’t always been easy for Jake. When he was a toddler, doctors had to break his feet and use three different sets of casts to reposition them.
In an interview with CBS News in Denver during the World Series of Youth Lacrosse this past summer, Jennifer and Mike Taylor, Jake’s parents, recalled their feelings and how they reacted when they learned doctors said Jake would never play sports.
“I think any parent hearing their child is hurt, or possibly has something going on, it was devastating, just that alone,” Mr. Taylor told CBS. “Then when they said not playing sports, it took me back. I was devastated.”
“It was definitely heartbreaking,” added Jennifer.
“I remember watching him play with other children,” said Mike. “You see kids the same age and they’re running around and he’s dragging around on the ground chasing after them. It didn’t bother Jake, but as a parent, it was tough to watch.”
So the Taylors decided to let Jake, who was unaware of his club feet and hip dysplasia, decide for himself if he wanted to play sports.
Now, Jake and his brother Noah, under the leadership of Desmond Megna, their head coach at William Floyd, will try to add some additional hardware to their trophy case – a Suffolk County title.
“Jake came up and started for us as an eighth grader in the toughest public school league in the nation,” said Coach Megna. “He was able to go toe-to-toe with some of the best players in the country on a weekly basis. This summer he was selected with Jezayd Hall to play for Suffolk County in the Long Island Lacrosse Showcase making him among the top 20 players in his age group. He is the cornerstone of our program who is a team first, unselfish player. Jake’s work ethic and desire to win is contagious and should help lead the program for years to come. The fact that he has been able to overcome this only adds to what is sure to be an impressive résumé.”
Jake also puts the emphasis on “student” in student athlete demonstrated by his academics including being a member of the national junior honor society in middle school. As a student-athlete, he has already received special invitations to “Maverick” and “Blue Chip Showcase” camps, as well as high-profile Division I camps. As far as his future goals, he is keeping his dream colleges “under wraps,” but has set some impressive goals – graduate from a Division I college, win a Division I National Championship and become an attorney.