Sports

The Islanders Taylor-made athlete

By Matt Phelps

Mercer Island High School senior Chris Taylor has seen his share of ups and downs while playing for the Islander football and lacrosse teams. From season-ending injuries to state championships, Taylor has been there. One thing that most coaches and athletes agree on is that he is the best all-around male athlete currently playing for the school.

``It feels good that people think that highly of me,'' said Taylor. ``I don't disagree that Callie (Webster) is the best female athlete. There are a lot of better athletes at the school than me.''

Taylor's athletic versatility was no more visible than this past football season. During his junior year, Taylor was the team's starting running back. But when starting quarterback Dane Christofferson graduated in 2003, Taylor was asked to change positions.

``A lot of the time I still wished I was playing running back,'' said Taylor. ``It was definitely a test of different skills. But I wanted to do what was best for the team.''

Taylor and the Islanders enjoyed great success during his junior season, winning eight games and just missing the playoffs.

``We felt we were better than a lot of the teams that did go to the playoffs, and that was a harsh reality,'' said Taylor. ``The determination of that senior class was the biggest difference.''

Things took a down turn this past football season, though. The football team won just two games and every player's nightmare came true for Taylor during a game at Sammamish High School.

Playing quarterback, Taylor kept the ball for a sneak play. When the play was over, the senior had to be helped from the field. Taylor sat out a few plays and then reentered the game. Again, he was tackled hard and was pulled from the game. It was the last time Taylor would play organized football.

``I was just hoping I could run again,'' said Taylor, who had a partially torn MCL and had two compression fractures. ``I felt like I let the team down.''

The resulting six weeks of rest and rehab were tough for the senior.

``It takes six weeks, but you feel healthy after two weeks,'' said Taylor.

His passion for football came from his older brother, Danny Tayor, who also played running back for the Islanders.

``We used to play football in the backyard when we lived in Arizona,'' said Taylor, who didn't start playing organized football until his freshman year. ``My mom didn't think that I was big enough to play until I was in high school.''

Taylor's family moved to Mercer Island when he was in seventh grade. That year, he was encouraged to tryout for a lacrosse team.

``It was something different to do,'' said Taylor. ``I always liked lacrosse better.''

The game has paid dividends for Taylor as he earned a scholarship to play for Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

He also got the feeling of being a champion as the Islander lacrosse team earned the state title last year.

``So far, that is my most memorable moment,'' said Taylor. ``The thing that made it so great was that we beat the team (Bainbrige Island) we had lost to the year before.''

The lacrosse team will attempt to repeat as state champions this season. Although Taylor was a captain last year, a title during his senior year would be that much better.

``There is a lot of pressure because everybody expects it this year,'' said Taylor. ``Everyone will be gunning for us.''

No matter what happens on the field though, Taylor knows that his ticket will come through his education. He earned the Washington State Scholar Athlete Award as a football player and presently has a 3.92 GPA.

Taylor also likes the outdoors. Hiking, snowboarding and wake boarding are some of his greatest pleasures. The senior said he tried competitive swimming, the sport his father excelled at, but it wasn't for him.

``I have always loved lacrosse,'' said Taylor. ``It is fast and I think there is a lot of strategy. It's like they say -- it is the fastest game on two feet.''

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