April 10, 2010

Doug Hawley: Taylor making grades, too

We often hear the term student-athlete used in college athletics.

That is particularly true for our top spectator sports such as football and basketball. Judging by the low graduation rates at so many schools, there obviously is a lot of lip service.

If you are looking for the true college student-athlete close to Dalton, try the Tennessee-Chattanooga cross country and track programs that annually compete for Southern Conference athletic and academic honors.

Shelley Taylor, a 2006 Northwest Whitfield graduate and standout distance runner for the Lady Bruins, is the lone area representative in the Mocs’ program and a true role model. During the past week, the distance runner earned recognition to the 2009-10 All-Southern Conference Academic Team with a 3.63 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.

“Shelley’s done such a great job for us as a runner and student,” UTC coach Bill Gautier said. “Shelley is everybody’s sister. She likes everybody, and everybody likes her. She never seems to have a bad day.”

At present, the educational major is practice teaching at Normal Park School in Chattanooga.

“It’s the No. 1 magnet school in the country (attracts gifted children),” Taylor said. “I’m really enjoying it.”

Although due to graduate in May, she will be eligible for another full year of cross country and track. That is because of a redshirt year due to injuries.

When healthy, Taylor has earned all-conference honors in cross country (8-kilometer, just short of 5 miles) and on the track for the 3,000-meter steeplechase (running over barriers, 10 minutes, 5 seconds) and 5-kilometer indoors (18:04).

“I don’t want to just be a fifth-year senior,” the 22-year-old Taylor said. “I want to be running 18-flat (5-k) and the top three in the conference. Also to be competitive in everything else.”

She takes equal pride in the Lady Mocs’ strong academics.

“Every year nationally, we’re in the top 15 or so,” Taylor said. “You don’t want to be the one to let everyone down.”

Taylor will work during in the 2010-11 school year on her masters in early childhood education.

 “Shelley will be an outstanding teacher,” Gautier said. “She loves children. She wants to stay in the area. She will be a positive influence in school, church or whatever. We were fortunate that she came to Chattanooga. She had an outstanding high school career.”

Taylor earned state titles at Northwest in cross country (5-kilometer) and the 3,200 run for track. Classmates also selected her homecoming queen.

“Coach obviously has been good for the program, both academically and athletically,” Taylor said. “He’s a tough coach.”

In regards to rugged swimming workouts that Gautier employs, she said with a chuckle, “I can actually swim a few laps without collapsing.”

Area schools somewhere down the road would do well to place Taylor at the top of the list as a teacher and a possible coach.

Regarding his 19 years in coaching, Gautier said, “We’ve won maybe seven or eight conference championships in women’s and men’s cross country. We’ve been second three times. We haven’t fared as well in track. We had a budget cut there several years ago. We pretty much depend on our distance runners from cross country to carry us.”

Last fall, the women’s and men’s cross country teams (about a dozen on each roster) were cited for all-academic recognition by U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The women compiled a 3.53 GPA and the men a 3.52, both solid overall B-plus to low-A averages.

“Every sport is different,” Gautier said. “Our athletes realize that they’re going to college here for an education. If they’re not focused on academics, I don’t want them. I recruit kids who are smart.”

Gautier, 52, was an an all-conference distance runner at Western Kentucky University. His background included a tremendous 29-minute 10-kilometer.

He is perfectly content to coach others. That includes his wife, Jan, who shines as a masters’ performer (40-and-over).

With role models such as Northwest product Shelley Taylor, Gautier long has guided a program of true student-athletes.


Text Only
  • Doug Hawley: New year means new goals for area runners

    Like many people, runners set goals for each new year. Less than two full weeks into 2014, most area runners are undefeated when it comes to road races — not unlike football players in August during preseason workouts. Until beaten, they might even feel infallible.

    January 12, 2014

  • Doug Hawley: Security concerns not slowing down runners

    Nothing short of a hurricane could keep the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta from taking place every July 4.
    That’s a certainty when you have runners from all 50 states — plus some from other countries — making their reservations for the world’s largest 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) road race. The journey from Buckhead to Piedmont Park attracts some 60,000 participants, a number equivalent to a standing-room only crowd for a Georgia Tech home football game.

    July 7, 2013

  • CarinaNieto.jpg Doug Hawley: Summer can be used for relaxation and running

    We often hear about young athletes becoming most successful thanks to their offseason work. That certainly is true for area high school cross country runners, who have some three months before their 2013 season hits full stride in September. What they do this summer can affect their results during the fall.

    June 2, 2013 1 Photo

  • Doug Hawley: Zimmerman has major goals for running club

    Erica Zimmerman has made a strong impact in a short time with the Carpet Capital Running Club.
    In less than two years as part of the organization, Zimmerman already is its new president. She took the gavel from Jennifer Cooley during the club’s annual banquet, held recently at Dalton Golf and Country Club.

    February 3, 2013

  • 10Miler.jpg Chris Stephens: 10-Miler a special race

    It’s hard to beat crossing the finish line. No pun intended. Whatever the distance — marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, 2-mile, 1-mile, 10 feet — it doesn’t matter.

    December 6, 2012 1 Photo

  • Misty Watson: Celebrating a milestone in kilometers

    I did it!

    I have been waiting two years, two weeks and three days to write those words.

    July 23, 2012

  • Doug Hawley: New cause for old race

    The 25th annual Dalton St. Patrick’s Day Road Race — the two-mile event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on March 15 at First Presbyterian Church (510 S. Tibbs Road) — will have a special flavor.

    February 4, 2012

  • Misty Watson: Moving at my own pace

    I’ve been longing for this day for months. I wanted to feel the burn in my lungs and hear my feet as they hit rhythmically on the pavement. I wanted to push myself to go further. I wanted to feel that crazy burst of energy that only follows a good cardio workout.

    December 23, 2011

  • Doug Hawley: Crane gives full effort for half marathon

    Long distance running and football are hardly considered a logical mix in our athletic society. Most football coaches believe 50-yard sprints or gassers to be punishment for their players, who likely concur with them.

    November 6, 2011

  • A Hidden Story

    Good morning.
    See if you can guess what country I am talking about based on this lead from a recent Associated Press story.
    “Policemen turned their guns on each other, soldiers shed their uniforms rather than obey orders to fire on protesters, and three young men who tried to escape were beheaded by forces loyal to (to the) President.”

    June 12, 2011