Only a few weeks after graduating from high school, Derek Taylor made the trip from Boise, Idaho, to BYU to start his college soccer career.
“It was a little intimidating to be an 18-year-old kid coming to play against such highly talented players from Division I programs,” Taylor said. “It is something I had always dreamed about and worked for … so the excitement outweighed the nerves.”
Taylor had a hot start, playing 242 minutes in six games his freshman season. He said he loved being able to continue playing soccer at a “top notch” level in an exciting and competitive atmosphere. He bonded quickly with his new teammates and felt like he fit right in.
“These guys were like my new family,” Taylor said. “We had a lot of fun and made some unforgettable memories together over the summer.”
However, that promising soccer career came to an unexpected halt just a few weeks ago when Taylor decided to leave the team to sell pest control with his brothers in Sacramento.
Taylor served a Spanish-speaking mission in Morristown, N.J., after his freshman year. He returned home in November 2010 and jumped into preparing for the upcoming soccer season. His skills were understandably rusty after taking two years off, but said he quickly got his touch back and started feeling comfortable with the ball.
“It was hard to balance school, a girlfriend and soccer workouts after getting home, but I was excited to get back onto the field and play again,” Taylor said.
Just before the season started, Taylor got engaged to his girlfriend and it looked like everything was going his way. But when the season got underway, reality kicked in and the two-year break proved detrimental to his previous success. The time he played was cut drastically, and he played only 13 minutes in three games before leaving this season.
With his wedding coming up in August, Taylor said he had to rearrange some of his priorities.
“It just made sense to come out here and try to make more money before I get married,” Taylor said. “It was really hard, but in the end it felt like the right thing to do.”
When asked about how the loss of Taylor has affected the team, BYU coach Chris Watkins said, “Derek didn’t play much, but we could have used him in a game like tonight’s [June 23 against Ventura County]. He could have played and contributed. I think he is going to regret his decision, but I love the guy. He is a great kid, and I wish him the best.”
With such a close-knit team that has been struggling this season, losing a player has not come easily.
“Whenever you lose a teammate it hurts,” junior defender Doug Clark said. “We miss him a lot. … He always worked hard and pushed everyone in practice.”