Taylor Edwards HS

Taylor Edwards dropped by The News-Gazette’s old office to rep Arcola girls’ basketball in our Faces of Winter series ahead of the 2013-14 season.

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You were approved as the next Arcola girls’ basketball coach in late September, when it was unclear if an IHSA season would happen. Now that one has started, what does it mean to be involved?

“It was refreshing for me. I had been around my girls — we’d had some open gyms — and I’d kind of gotten a chance to feel their energy toward wanting to play and get back to a little bit of normalcy. So to finally hear that they were going to get that and I finally had a chance to coach them through a season, it was refreshing because their excitement, it was felt. To know and to start planning for that, it was a good feeling.”

What was it like when you first walked into Arcola’s Nancy Stiff Gymnasium as the coach at your alma mater?“It definitely had some special emotion. I can’t really put a finger on how to identify it. There was a lot of pressure to win, to produce and to do all these things, (and) it was also my first experience as a coach. So I didn’t have a whole lot of, ‘How am I going to do this? What am I going to do?’ I had the blessing and fortune of having a lot of good coaches in the past, but now I’m the one leading the charge. To kind of pick and choose how I want to apply different principles and different things has been quite the experience. But it has come with a lot of pressure at the same time.”

Is there anything’s that’s surprised you so far in your tenure as coach?“What I consider my biggest weakness was understanding the tactics of basketball and trying to implement plays and reading defenses. In college, I’d always thrived on listening to what my coaches said and going out and doing whatever they had told me to do. ... As a head coach, I’ve got to call the shots. I’ve got to implement a system. So it’s been kind of surprising to me to recognize how much I had learned from previous coaches and how much they had prepared me for that moment.”

Your team has won both of their games, beating Blue Ridge and Cerro Gordo/Bement so far. What does it mean to quickly be 2-0 in your coaching career?“It was definitely a happy feeling. Emotional feeling, actually. I didn’t really think too much about it until I was talking to the team after the (Blue Ridge) game ... and in the midst of all that, Nick Lindsey, our AD, came in and gave me the game ball and congratulated me. That really brought out some emotions. So it was special, but at the end of the day I’m hoping to build off that and not focus too much on, ‘What’s the record, how are we doing,’ things like that, but keep the main thing the main thing.”

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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