I would take a national championship ring over a record any day though. Team success is what is most important
Behind every great team is a great leader. One who considers the whole rather than the individual. One who is dedicated, strives for unity, steps up, learns, comes alongside, is courageous, and displays character. Although these leaders are rare, like hidden gems, senior Taylor Skala has proved to be one in women’s sports at Rockhurst University.
Playing four years of soccer and basketball as a forward and guard, Skala’s sports career has been nothing less than inspiring. Exemplifying what it means to be a team player, she has led the Hawks to victory in soccer and pioneered the turnaround of their women’s basketball program. Now on the edge of breaking a school record, Skala and her team are living the dream this season.
Recruited by Rockhurst, Skala was free to play both sports. This season in soccer she has led the team to a BR-37 ranking. Recently, Skala scored her 40th career goal, one shy of breaking the school record held by Katie Kammerer Haffield. According to Sports Information Director John Dodderidge, she now has 90 overall career points and is only nine points short of the school record.
Behind her success, Skala credits a team of individuals made up of family members, coaches from Rockhurst, former coach Mike Taylor from Saint Viator, assistants, and her beloved teammates.
“What drives me is my school pride. I have a strong connection to the name that I wear across my jersey,” stated Skala. “I will do anything for my team.”
Women’s Head Soccer Coach Greg Herdlick commented, “She is the first to practice and the last to leave always putting in extra work and time to improve on the little things.”
Being apart of a strong soccer program, Skala also came on the scene of what Women’s Head Basketball Coach Larry Park called a “floundering” basketball program who hadn’t seen a winning season in eleven years.
“We haven’t had a winning season yet but I feel fairly confident we have a great chance to make that happen and she’s going to be a big part of that,” said Park. “When you’re turning around a program, you need people who believe in themselves because we frankly had a hard time getting high level recruits. Taylor took a chance on us.”
Coach Park also noted her growth over the years going to being what he called “a soccer player playing for us” to becoming a solid defensive player.
Coach Herdlick believes her.
“On the field Taylor is a fierce competitor and that competitive spirit that she has certainly goes off the field and into the classroom where she has a 3.9 GPA in pre-med. Yet, despite her rigorous soccer and class schedule, Taylor is compassionate and devoted as she is involved in several charitable organizations giving back to the community.”
Noted for infusing her team with hope, Skala, according to defender Nicole Vermes is her role model saying, “She always pushes me to be a better player whether it be at practice when we are battling against each other or in a game when we are fighting the same battle.”
With plans to battle in the conference tournament then in the national tournament for the 4th year, the Hawks are ready to see how they stack up with the best in the nation.
“She’s more about trying to score as many goals as she can to benefit the team,” said defender Kasey Lierz. “Taylor helped create the team goal of scoring over 32 combined goals this season and has helped to get us closer to that number.”
In true form, Skala acknowledged that wins mean more than individual accomplishments to her.
“I would take a national championship ring over a record any day though. Team success is what is most important,” said Skala.
After scoring two goals on Sunday in a 3-1 over Southern Indiana, Skala broke the school record for career goals with 42 goals and is five points shy of beating the career points record standing now at 94 points.