This week we finish up with Jackson Taylor, the former Windham Eagle who quarterbacked them to the 2009 State Title. Many high school athletes hang on to the dream of playing at the next level, and sometimes hang on to it until it’s too late, without thinking of what they would do in the real world. Taylor was not one of them. Taylor, who attended Manning Passing Academy camp one off-season high school summer, came to Maine to play quarterback, was moved to fullback, then transferred out of the school, with his after football life in mind.
“I’m currently going through my final semester at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT where I will be graduating with a Bachelors in Biology and Neuroscience, said Taylor. “I continued to play football there, but when I left Orono, my main goal was to set myself up for life after football. I have enjoyed my years at Wesleyan greatly and the decision to transfer was by far the best thing I ever did for myself. I would hope that others who are playing high school sports now and looking at colleges make sure that they keep in mind that athletics only will last so long and eventually your education is what will guide you through the rest of life. Luckily for me, I figured that out early in my college career and now I am in a much better place.”
The schooling isn’t over for Taylor, though.
“When I complete my degree in December, I will be attending graduate school in Florida to get my doctorate in physical therapy,” continued Taylor. ”I will also be sitting for my CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) this December so that I will be able to work with collegiate athletes through and after graduate school. My passion is working with people and I will be able to fulfill that with my future endeavors as a Physical Therapist and Strength Coach.”
There’s still the Al Bundy aspect of a former high school athlete, reliving the glory days. The 2009 Windham championship was almost derailed twice, by Bonny Eagle in the semifinals, by Cheverus (and the rain) in the regional final, and by Bangor in the state championships. Windham persevered and made the big plays when they needed them, led by Taylor and Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Jack Mallis.
“When I was home this past weekend, I actually caught myself going through a photo album from that senior year and having a bit of nostalgia about how amazing that season was,” Taylor reminisced. “It is fun to look at now and realize how special that time of all of our lives was. However, there is no moment that will top us beating Bonny Eagle in overtime with the two point conversion (in the semifinals). No matter how many times I watch that video, I always get chills. It still amazes me to this day how Jake Darling made that catch (on the two point conversion).”
One thing Taylor hits on is something that something many don’t realize when they’re in high school: people go their separate ways.
“I have not kept in touch with many of my teammates as I probably should. It is crazy how after high school everyone goes their own directions and life changes so dramatically,” said Taylor. “However, I am still incredibly close with all of the coaching staff. I talk with Perk (head coach Matt Perkins) and Milli (assistant football coach Kevin Millington) pretty frequently and it is always a pleasure to come home and see how great of a job they do. As I have gotten older, I have appreciated more and more how wonderful the coaches are at Windham. It is hard to find people who will genuinely be there for you regardless of your performance on a football field. I owe a great deal of my success as a person and an athlete to the way they coached me and mentored me during my high school years.”
There are plenty of kids like Jackson Taylor playing sports right now throughout Maine high school athletics, and it certainly makes you feel better about the future.
Starting next week, football season starts, and I’ll be providing the Oxford Hills perspective on Eastern A each week, with game stories and the like. Good luck to all the teams and athletes this season.