Izzy Taylor is Augustana bound for the next four

Kora Montana

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Horoscopes 5/2
May 3, 2018

Four-time all conference runner and DGS girls’ track captain Izzy Taylor hurdles into her next chapter of life as the newest member of the Augustana College track team.

Taylor found her passion for running in seventh grade at Jefferson Jr. High School. Taylor was originally a gymnast, but after realizing her talent in running, she switched to track full time and has been on the DGS team since her freshman year.

“First I did gymnastics for the longest time, but I noticed I was always really fast when it came to events like vault, so when I got to Jefferson I thought why not just try track, and that’s when I fell in love with it,” Taylor said.

Running holds a special place in Taylor’s heart because of the fact that it allows her to be independent in the sport.

“I love track particularly because it’s an individual sport and it’s all on you, but then you can also do a relay which has the team aspect, so it’s the best of both worlds. I’ve met some really cool girls on the DGS team who are super inspirational,” Taylor said. 

Taylor runs the 100m, 200m and 400m races and participates in all the relays. Varsity Track Coach Nicole Sanders explained what makes Taylor so successful in her events.

“Izzy is extremely hard-working and one of our top sprinters. She is goal-oriented and works extremely hard to achieve her goals,” Sanders said.

“Izzy is extremely versatile when it comes to track. When making a lineup, she is truly someone that I could put in any race and she would excel at it,” Sanders said.

Taylor started looking into Augustana through the DGS program AVID, a class that is put into a student’s everyday class schedule, and the curriculum focuses on helping students prepare for college.

“We did a lot of projects [in AVID] on schools that we could possibly go to, and then I found Augustana, and I just knew I liked it. I started looking into it more seriously my sophomore year,” Taylor said.

Izzy Taylor’s mom, Elena Taylor, thinks that AVID was something her daughter substantially advantaged from.

AVID was an extremely valuable class for Izzy freshman through junior year as it taught her study and organization skills, and life lessons on the best practices to succeed in school,” Elena Taylor said.

The process of Izzy Taylor becoming a member of the track team at Augustana consisted of her putting herself up for recruitment.

“I went on the website and filled out the recruitment form and then the coach emailed me back. Once I set up a visit, I got a tour and was able to meet him. Once I applied and figured out that I got in, I knew it was somewhere I wanted to attend,” Izzy Taylor said.

Izzy Taylor ultimately saw Augustana as her best option because of the two hour driving distance away from her home.

“After I visited Augustana, I knew I loved the distance. I just got that feeling, and every time I think about it, or every time I visit I get more and more excited. I love how it’s small, I love the campus and I love the coaches and the girls on the team. I can just see myself there,” Izzy Taylor said.

Elena Taylor approves of the school and agrees that it’s the right choice for Izzy Taylor.

The school is small enough for her to get individual support if she wants it from professors. It has wonderful, updated facilities and a track team where she will be able to continue to improve her track skills,” Elena Taylor said.

Izzy Taylor said she’s always intended to run at the collegiate level, as she see’s an after-class activity essential to her school success.

“I have always loved being active, and I can’t sit still, I just don’t like it. I don’t love school, and I’m not the best at it. I’ve never been the smartest student, so having a sport after school is sort of my stress reliever… I’ve just always felt like I need that as I continue onto college,” Izzy Taylor said.

Elena Taylor also sees sports and activities after class as a necessity to a student’s life and believes Izzy is making the optimal choice by continuing her sport into her college career.

“[Sports are] a lot of extra work, but I feel very strongly that activities outside of school are an integral part of a student’s success. Both my children were student athletes throughout high school and are continuing at the college level. Sports have provided so much to my children; friendships and camaraderie, a regimen or schedule to keep them focused and occupied, as well as reinforcing the importance of team work and dedication.

Izzy Taylor explained that school sometimes strikes as a challenge for her, but came to the conclusion that because of this, she’s become a stronger person, resulting in a stronger athlete.  

“School-wise, I’ve always been horrible at math. It never really bothered me my freshman and sophomore year, but then I took the SAT, and the score I got was awful to me. After getting my score back I just felt stupid, especially after hearing the scores my friends got, and that point was really low for me,” Izzy Taylor said.

“I think what overcame that for me was learning that you can be smart in different ways. I applied to Augustana test-optional, and since I didn’t send my score I had to write an essay as to why. In that I wrote a lot about how I am so much more than a test score and what qualities I have as a person that are more important than a test score; I’ve always struggled with thinking that I’m not good enough when it comes to school,” Izzy Taylor said.

As one of the captains of the track team, Izzy Taylor and her co-captains take up many of the typical responsibilities that a head coach would.

“The coaches like to call us the ‘mini coaches.’ Sometimes we have to lead warm-ups for workouts, we make quote cards for the girls to motivate them or sometimes we put together team bonding. The girls can come to us for advice, and other times we have to discipline them,” Izzy Taylor said.

Sanders acknowledged that Izzy Taylor has tremendously grown as an athlete in many ways to get to the influential position she is in now as a captain.

“Watching her grow as a leader and athlete has been a truly special moment for me as a coach. Over the years, she has worked extremely hard to go from an athlete that was a little on the shy side, to a captain and team asset,” Sanders said.

Sanders also addressed the superior qualities Izzy Taylor withholds that make her a strong team leader and someone her teammates can trust.

“Izzy fits all of the criteria [of a respected captain]. When the coaches came together, she was named a captain almost immediately because girls on the team already naturally trusted her and worked with her. When talking in front of the entire group before a big meet, she has great experiences to reflect on and share that really help the rest of the athletes succeed,” Sanders said.

Izzy Taylor highly values her position as captain because she recalls how much she looked up to her captains when she was an underclassmen.

“I just find it so important for the other girls to have someone to aspire to be, so I hope that I am that for them. I also think it’s beneficial since we live the sport and are surrounded by the girls everyday, so [the captains] have a stronger insight when it comes to our teammates. We can relate more to them, so we are a more effective help to them,” Izzy Taylor said.

Elena Taylor is greatly impressed by the progress her daughter has made and the student and athlete she has become.

“As her mom, I’m bursting with pride to witness all she has accomplished in school, sports and extracurricular groups at Downers Grove South… Never did I think she would accomplish as much as she has being an active participant in many school organizations as well as sports every year,” Elena Taylor said.

Izzy Taylor’s boyfriend, Matt Pierson, is a senior at Montini Catholic High School. He explained the pride he feels from seeing her success as an athlete and student.

“It makes me super happy to see all of her accomplishments, I’m very proud of her and all she’s done athletically and academically. Izzy’s one of the hardest working people I know, and it makes me happy to see all the hard work pay off,” Pierson said.

Izzy Taylor and Pierson have been together since their junior year. Izzy Taylor explained how the two sort of got off to a rocky start.

“I was in my math class with his best friend Frank Gadzala, and he pretty much introduced us. I’ve known of Matt since my freshman year… I actually did not like him at all at first. Once junior year came we started talking and things just took off from there,” Izzy Taylor said.

Pierson will also be attending Augustana College next fall. Izzy Taylor and Pierson have continued to support each other with their athletics, as he is captain of Varsity Boys’ Lacrosse at Montini. The couple recognizes it will be difficult to fully focus on their relationship with their busy schedules, but believes they are lucky to be attending the same school.

“Izzy and I know that it’s going to be hard in college trying to balance school, athletics and a relationship, but since we go to different schools now, I think that prepares us for the time apart in college,” Pierson said.

“I know it’s going to be hard, but I also think that we’re blessed since we are going to the same school. The big challenge for us will be that our seasons are at the same time in the spring, so we’ll be away from each other a lot at that time. At the end of the day, we’re coming back to the same school and we’re not even going to be a mile away from each other,” Izzy Taylor said.

Izzy Taylor pointed out that regardless of her relationship with Pierson, the decision to attend Augustana was made all on her own.

“Matt going to Augustana is just another positive factor. That’s something that I don’t like about my situation. When people ask me where my boyfriend is going and I say he’s going to Augustana as well, they automatically assume I chose to go there for him. If Matt was not in my life, Augustana would still be my dream school — he’s just a bonus,” Izzy Taylor said.

At Augustana, Izzy Taylor plans to major in Elementary Education. She discovered her love for this through the DGS Introduction to Teaching Program.

“When I was in eighth grade, one of my teachers told me I would be a good kindergarten teacher, but at that time I was completely opposed to the idea of working with kids … Now, I absolutely love it, I work in a first grade class and they’re so small and cute, and they’re so excited about learning. Even though it’s just simple stuff, it makes me proud because their little brains are working so hard, and it makes me happy to see that,” Izzy Taylor said.

“I want to pass on the message to them that you can be smart in different ways because I’ve gone through my challenges in school. I want them to know that everyone has their own strengths and talents, and that’s okay because we’re all different,” Izzy Taylor said.

Sanders trusts that Izzy Taylor will have much success as an athlete at Augustana due to her strong work-ethic and enthusiasm for running.

“She is constantly working to better herself on the track and it is reflected in her performances. Izzy is also extremely passionate about track and working hard … You can see this passion in how she works with the other athletes and coaches,” Sanders said.

Elena Taylor is eager to see what the future as an Augustana Athlete holds for her daughter, and knows being on the track team will ensure her success as not only an athlete but a student as well.

Having a sport to participate in will provide a routine and continued dedication to a team as well as individual improvement. I couldn’t be more proud of my Izzy,” Elena Taylor said.

“Izzy is a born leader that strives for success and helps others succeed in a very selfless way. She is a special athlete that will be so incredibly missed,” Sanders said.