Wheatmore’s Walker signs with Wingate
Taylor Walker has to take a moment to think. There’s really no easy answer for why she’s stuck with basketball all these years — it’s just been something she’s enjoyed.
“It’s always just been a part of me,” says Walker, a senior at Wheatmore. “If I didn’t play basketball, I don’t know what I’d do with my life. Spending every weekend at the gym, working out twice a week, training, practicing every day — you just fall in love with the game. You can’t help it.”
Since she started playing as a youngster, Walker has had a knack for the game and has been driven to succeed. Now, through years of hard work and dedication — all out of her enjoyment for the game — she’s achieved one of her dream goals: to play college basketball, as she’s signed to play with NCAA Division II Wingate University.
“I’m very excited to play the next four years,” says Walker, the daughter of Robbie and Cindy of Trinity. “It’s crazy to think it’s finally here. Now, to be that person on the court and that little kid wants to be just like them, it’s pretty cool.”
Growing up, Walker wanted to compete with the boys, whether taking them on in PE class or playing against them in all-boys leagues. Even just playing pick-up games with her brother, Paul, she enjoyed the challenge. It was then, knowing she could hang with the boys, that sparked her confidence, which continued to grow throughout high school.
In three years, heading into her senior season, Walker has been named All-PAC-6 2A three times, including conference co-player of the year as a junior. Walker, who has also worked with Kenny Carter in recent years to develop her game, was named team MVP as she became the first player in school history to eclipse 1,000 points.
“I think it starts with her family, her parents and the support that she’s had, the coaches she’s had in the past, and also just the passion she has for the sport,” Warriors coach Nicole Clausi says. “She absolutely loves basketball. She loves watching basketball; she loves practicing; she loves playing.
“At first, she was timid — she wasn’t aware of how good she is. But after all the hard work she’s put in, she’s starting to realize how great of a basketball player she is. And it’s not just as a shooting guard with an outside shot, but as an all-around basketball player.”
As she weighed her options, Walker narrowed her top choices to two schools: Wingate and UNC Pembroke. Everything about it — from the school environment to the athletics — led her to choose Wingate, which swept the South Atlantic Conference titles and reached the third round of the NCAA Division II tournament last year.
“I went on my official visit a couple weeks ago and Coach (Ann) Hancock and Coach (Dustin) Terrel went out of their way to make me feel like I was at home,” Walker says. “I sat in on a practice and met all the players, and it was just a great atmosphere.
“And it’s a lot closer to home. My parents have done so much for me. So, for them to be able to watch my games, that weighed a lot too.”