PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — It’s probably safe to say that Division II Holy Family University’s Taylor Walker really enjoys a challenge.
A Williamstown, New Jersey native, Walker played soccer and basketball in high school (Williamstown High and then Delsea Regional). She originally just played basketball for the Tigers, who call Northeast Philadelphia home, but she knew she wanted to add soccer to her resume at some point.
“My main sport is basketball,” Walker tells KYW Newsradio. “But when I was getting recruited, I’d always ask the coaches, ‘Do you allow two-sport athletes?’ Some schools would say no right away. But at Holy Family, my coach said, ‘Take the first year, just do basketball then feel it out and if you feel comfortable you can continue to play soccer and basketball.'”
Listen to the entire interview with Holy Family’s Taylor Walker:
Walker took two years before deciding prior to this, her junior season, to get back out on the pitch and she knew right away she had made the right decision
“Right away in the summer I would just get so excited,” Walker says. “Just thinking about soccer I would get butterflies and just training for it . . I just missed it so much.”
Pretty cool story, right? Wait, it gets better.
Walker has been a key contributor for the 6-4-1 Tigers, scoring a goal in nine games as a midfielder. Those are nine of the ten games she has played for Holy Family. The tenth? Why, she started in goal.
On September 20th, the Tigers were set to play a non-conference game against Queens College up in Flushing, New York. The usual goalie for Holy Family (Sienna Smith) wasn’t available and they had lost their back-up keeper over the summer. The Tigers have a player on the roster who they have leaned on in emergency situations like this in the past (forward Shannon Metzler), but this time around, head coach Jill Reeves turned to Walker, which was something that Walker did not expect.
“It totally caught me off guard,” Walker says.
Especially because Walker had no experience as a goalie.
“I wish I could take credit for this brilliant idea to put Taylor in goal,” Reeves says, “but it was my assistant who talked me into it.”
Listen to the entire interview with Holy Family’s Jill Reeves:
But Reeves had a very good understanding of the skill set that Walker would bring to the position.
“I sit at the (scorer’s) table at basketball and work the games,” Reeves says, “and I just have been watching her play for two years and her athletic ability is at the top of the team’s athletic ability. That was like the final decision when it came down to it, it was just her reaction time because of her basketball ability, using that to bring over to soccer to go in goal. It just made sense.”
Reeves didn’t tell Walker she was starting in net until shortly before the game as she didn’t want Walker to have too much time to think and/or worry about the move. Just go out and play. And it worked.
“She had a few shots taken on her, she saved them,” Reeves says. “She looked like she’d done it a thousand times. She just played very mature and kept her players in front of her in check.”
Walker earned a shutout in a 1-0 Holy Family win.
“I really didn’t feel comfortable the whole entire game,” Walker says. “I was so nervous. I figured if a goal slips by, I’m just the back-up, no pressure. But then at the end of the game, it’s still 0-0, I was like, ‘I want this shutout,’ and we eventually pulled away with the win.”
Since the great goalkeeping experiment, Walker has returned to the midfield. But if the situation to get in net came up again?
“I’d totally be down for it,” Walker says. “I mean it was fun.”
Walker and the Holy Family women’s soccer team visits NYACK on Saturday.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.