Taylor overcomes injury in return to hardwood

By Wes Holtsclaw

   It was almost a missed senior season for Unaka basketball star Heather Taylor.
   Last summer, Taylor was riding a horse when it fell on her. She tore her ACL and had nerve damage in her right foot.
   "We went riding for an hour," said Taylor, "And I guess the horse got scared and it fell over on me. It caused me to have nerve damage in my right foot and tore my ACL."
   "It was hard, I had to stay at home with her and take care of her," Heather's mother Susan Taylor said, "She was hurting in both legs. She was in the hospital for two days and it's taken about six months for her to fully recover."
   The situation at that time hardly gave the Unaka Lady Ranger any chance to come back to the basketball court. But after a lot of hard work and dedication, Taylor bounced back onto the court to become a big part of her team yet again.
   "It was very hard," Heather said, "I went to therapy 1 1/2 hours each day before my surgery then about three hours a day right after it. It was hard getting back to where I wanted. I was immobilized for five weeks and it caused my leg to get weak."
   Taylor often spent close to six hours each day between practice and rehabilitation once she began to get back onto the court.
   "She worked hard when she first started to come back," said Unaka coach Ken Chambers, "I think she realized that she got a second chance. She saw that her career here was almost over with and wanted to use her time wisely to get back to where she wanted to be."
   Through a lot of hard work and dedication, she resumed her spot as a big key in the Unaka system, helping lead her squad to an 11-4 record.
   "It was a big motivation to get back," Taylor said, "I got a lot of support from my coach and my family really helped me."
   Taylor really emerged in December averaging 14 points per game in the Pickett County Christmas Tournament and was selected to the All-Tournament team for Unaka.
   "It was great," she said, "I think the whole team really played hard. My teammates helped me out a lot and were great supporters."
   Perhaps one of her biggest supporters was her twin sister and teammate Kelly.
   "She was behind me a hundred percent," Heather said, "I couldn't have done it without her. She got down when it happened and had to step up to the team by herself. But she was happy when I came back."
   Said Chambers: "They are wonderful girls, I stay on them all the time about being leaders. They are not very vocal, but I try to have them lead by example."
   "They are always the first to practice and the last to leave," he said, "Both are super nice girls, sometimes I wish they were meaner."
   Unaka's girls are currently tied for first in the Watauga Valley Conference with Cloudland and post one of the state's top fifteen records in single A this season.
   "We got to keep our heads on straight and work on fundamentals," Taylor said, "I think we should be able to get it down."
   Although Heather has gotten a lot of support from her team and the Stoney Creek community, nothing could compare to the backing of her parents Kirby and Susan.
   "It's been pretty a good season," said her mother, "Especially with Heather coming back like she is. Both of them are playing well right now."
   Taylor's attitude and commitment to her play has really served as an inspiration to many. Be on the lookout for her and her sister this half of the season as they are poised to lead Unaka to a successful finish.