Howard senior Taylor Scaife and a few of her teammates play some games with the Howard County Times, in the latest edition of Varsity Q&A. (Tim Schwartz/Howard County Times video)
Few athletes dominated the indoor track and field season like Howard senior Taylor Scaife.
Winning the county, region and state titles in the shot put, Scaife cruised her way to a postseason sweep, and was the only girl in the state to qualify for The Penn Relays in the event.
Off the track, however, she can be found doing volunteer work for one of the many clubs she is in at school, or lifting weights to help her prepare to be the best in the state.
With a state medal to boast as she prepares for the upcoming outdoor season, Scaife took some time to reflect on her accomplishments, how she developed into a top-notch shot-putter, and her decision to continue her athletics at the University of Houston.
It's safe to say you had a pretty good indoor season, winning the county, region and state titles in the shot put. How would you rank your season?
Overall, I would give it maybe a six so far, only because I haven't hit the marks I wanted to hit yet. But I have another indoor meet coming up this weekend — the New Balance Nationals (in New York City). I'm hoping I can get where I should be, which is to throw 45 feet. So if that goes well, I would say I had a perfect-10 season.
What are your goals there?
I will be doing the shot put and the weight throw in the emerging elite and championship. Those are the two different categories they put you under. I am going to do both levels for the shot put and weight throw. I'm hoping to throw (the shot put) between the 43 and 45 feet range that I have been working toward for a long time now. And in the weight throw, I'm hoping to get between 55 and 60 feet.
Take me through the process of you starting the field events as a freshman, and getting to the point where you are now as a state champion.
I actually didn't go into high school thinking I was going to be a track athlete. I thought I was going to play basketball, but that didn't work out. I had some friends that were doing track and everybody was like, 'hey, come out', so I went out and ended up throwing, and I guess I looked good to the coaches and everything. So, from there I just started going to practice and working on technique, trying to understand the sport a little more. I've just been working hard and trying to get my name out there going to different meets, even outside of school. Lifting weights, I kind of picked that up a lot last year. I've been putting a lot of reps into it because I am still trying to get my technique down. Just a lot of repetition.
Is there a moment that sticks out where you thought, 'this is for me'?
Probably freshman year when I went to the state meet and finished 10th. It just kind of clicked at that point. I was like, 'OK, I'm a freshman. I got 10th. It's not the best, but it's not the worst you could get, even as a freshman. I think this is something I could see myself doing and excelling at if I put in the work that needs to be put in.' And that's what I did.
How far did you throw the shot put as a freshman?
As a freshman, I threw 30 feet.
At the state meet, you threw 41 feet. How much work and effort does it take to slowly but surely get those extra inches to turn into feet and throw even further?
I think the biggest thing that helped me was picking up the weights. Because for a long time – freshman and sophomore year – I didn't lift weights at all. I didn't start until my junior year, and I started going to AXIS Sports Performance Center (in Columbia). So doing that, mixed with me just going to practice everyday, working on the small things, some days not even picking up a shot and just kind of going through the motions that I needed to go through to make those inches and feet come to me.
This season, you were the only girl shot-putter in the state to qualify for The Penn Relays at the end of April. How exciting is it to qualify for that, considering that's a big-time national meet?
I'm pretty excited. I went last year, and I did OK. I did pretty good for it being my first time and I was still pretty young, and I wasn't where I'm at today. So I'm pretty excited about showcasing all the work I've put into this, mentally and physically, and showing it all in New York in front of people I've never seen before.
What made you decide to commit to the University of Houston?
When I went there and stepped on campus, it just felt right. Out of all the schools, it felt right. I enjoyed the coaches and everything they talked to me about. I agreed with everything, the whole system, the way they work. Me and the other athletes got along really well. While I was there — since we were in a hotel — some of the athletes came in, and we just worked on technique right in the middle of the hotel. And that, I felt like, was the selling point for me. It showed me how serious they were about helping me get better.
Is there anything specific that you like to do outside of school and track & field?
I do a lot of volunteer work. When I don't have track meets on Saturday's, most likely I am volunteering somewhere for different school events because I'm in a lot of different clubs that allow me to do things outside of school.
What type of things do you volunteer for?
Since I'm in the Future Educators Association group, we do a lot of things with helping in Howard County, like the Autism Walk, and things like that.
What are you most looking forward to in the outdoor season?
I'm looking forward to improving because I love what I've seen so far as far as my progression as a person and in track. So I'm looking to get some of the things I haven't gotten in the past, with things like my technique, down. I want to see how far that can take me in the different events that I do.