Jennah Taylor has been playing basketball as long as she can remember, but her earliest hoops recollections aren’t of glorious victories.
“I started out playing in the driveway with my sisters,” she said with a smile. “I was the youngest. I always lost.”
Taylor has come a long way from vanquished little sister to one of the top female basketball players her age group in Ontario.
Taylor spent this summer with the provincial U17 girls’ team, playing tournaments in Canada and the U.S.
Most recently, she traveled to Washington, DC in late July to compete in the US Junior National U17 tournament.
The team didn’t reel off a string of victories (as it had at a Nike-sponsored U17 tournament in Chicago earlier in the summer), but Taylor said she was happy with how the team performed, and how she did personally.
Her debut at the provincial level was the result of perseverance.
The St. Patrick’s student – a center in high school basketball, but a shooting guard/small forward on the Ontario squad – said she tried out for the provincial program in Grades 8 and 9 and didn’t make the cut.
Then, in Grade 10, disaster struck when she went down hard in a game and injured herself.
“I didn’t know what was wrong,” she says, but after trying various approaches to the injury, including stretching, resting it and playing through it, it was clear it wasn’t responding.
“Eventually, I had to go to the doctor … they did a bone scan and an MRI,” said Taylor, who was diagnosed with a fractured ischium – a growth plate in the hip.
“I had to take six months off.”
When she returned she dedicated herself to training harder than ever, and credits Sarnia’s Kendel Ross and LD Fitness with helping her bounce back and reach the next level.
Her goal was realized when she survived a series of provincial training camps in Toronto and was named to the 21-player roster. With 21 players, the team is often divided into two squads that compete at the same, or different, events).
Along with her sisters, Taylor said her most important basketball influences were her father and first coach Andrew Taylor, school coaches Brett Braekevelt and Ed Dragan, and Jeff Byrnes of the provincial development program.
After watching them close-up all summer, she also praised the work of the Ontario coaching staff of Christa Eniojukan, Karen Bremner, Brittany Hederson and Lee Anna Osei.
Taylor, about to start Grade 12, said she is keeping her options open about playing at the university or college level.