From running on the playground at recess to racing against the top collegiate runners, senior women’s cross country captain, Caitlin Taylor, lives life in the fast lane. Taylor grew up in Mount Hermon, Calif., where she spent most of her time around the summer camps her father directed for 15 years. With active parents and athletic siblings, Taylor is no stranger to the world of athletics.
“I was, and probably still am, a crazy child that needed activity,” Taylor said. “When I was little, I spent all of recess running around the school.”
Taylor began running competitively in seventh grade, following the footsteps of one of her brothers.
“My brother, who is closest in age to me, started doing this kids’ track club in the sixth grade and he kept running through junior high and high school,” Taylor said. “Through him, I got to know the high school team and the coach so I just naturally fell into it.”
Taylor attended San Lorenzo Valley High School, where she competed in cross country and track. During her junior and senior years of high school, Taylor was named a captain of the cross country team. On her high school track team, Taylor achieved one of the top 20 school record times in the 800, 3000 and 3200 meter races, records which she still holds today.
After a successful high school running career, Taylor looked for a college at which she could not only excel academically, but also continue her passion for running competitively. Whitworth became her primary choice after learning from cross country head coach Toby Schwarz that the team was not only about striving to reach one’s potential as an athlete, but also as a person.
“My first impression was that she’d be a great fit for Whitworth and she has,” Schwarz said. “She’s definitely an others-focused type of person and wants the team to do well.”
Taylor started her collegiate running career with a bang as she competed in the women’s cross country nationals as a freshman.
“As a freshman competing in nationals, that’s a big thing and over the years she continues to improve,” Schwarz said. “She PR’d just last week by a lot so I see some big races still ahead of her.”
Being a captain this year as a senior, Taylor makes sure one of her main priorities is to check in on each of her teammates to ensure they are doing well holistically and not just athletically, Taylor said.
“She’s great as a captain because she can really relate to the girls and she’s really good at being there for all of them when hard things are going on in their lives,” fellow captain, junior Christina Williams said. “She is someone all the girls look up to.”
Taylor’s strengths of optimism and positivity has made a definite impact on the team and the women’s performances. By sending little emails of encouragement and reaching out to her teammates, Taylor has adopted the role of a captain that not only leads in the races, but cares for her teammates outside of the sport as well.
“Caitlin is like the momma of the team she really cares for everybody,” sophomore teammate Kellyn Roiko said. “She’s got this ‘sunshiney’ attitude and is always really positive, probably the most positive person I know.”
Taylor also enjoys being part of the Whitworth Presbyterian Church community, spending quality time with friends and having dance parties.
“Oh my goodness. I love dance parties,” said Taylor. “I’m not good at any dance moves I just kind of go crazy and do my own thing which ends up being really fun. I just like pretending I can dance.”
As a sociology major intending to attend to graduate school in the future, Taylor is serious in her studies and hopes to work with people to help them heal and overcome obstacles in their lives.
Taylor may be serious about academics, but with friends she is known to be quite different.
“She can be pretty silly,” Roiko said. “We have a camp before the season starts and we do skits with the team. She randomly said ‘oh I can be a dinosaur’ which had nothing to do with what we were doing but she does an awesome dinosaur impression.”
As for running in the future, Taylor confirms that she has no intention of untying her Brooks Adrenaline running shoelaces anytime soon. With plans for competing in triathlons and marathons in the future, Taylor will continue to live her life in the fast lane after college.
“For me, running is an expression of the freedom that God gives us when we surrender things to Him,” Taylor said. “Having surrendered all these other things in my life, I feel like running fast is an expression of that. I have this gift and I want to use it. I want to run free and fast.”
Jordanne Perry Staff Writer
Contact Jordanne Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org