Wednesday, November 23, 2022

WHS graduate uses sports background to prepare others for athletics

By Matt Pascarella

For Windham High graduate Jackson Taylor, sports have always been an integral part of his life. After his graduation from high school, his involvement and love of sports led him to become a physical therapist and start his own company, Golf Strong USA, located in Florida, which properly conditions golfers and athletes.

Windham High graduate Jackson Taylor served as the 
graduation speaker at his graduate school graduation
ceremony at the University of St. Augustine in Florida
in 2018 and for Windham High School in 2022.
Taylor left quite a mark upon Windham High School. He helped lead Windham football to a state championship in 2009 and was honored as WHS Student-Athlete of the Year, finished as runner-up in the triple jump and was on All-Academic Team from 2008 to 2010. He would go on to play four years of college football.

Most recently, Taylor served as the commencement speaker for Windham High School’s Class of 2022 and says being asked to do this was one of his greatest honors.

Since he can remember, Taylor has had a ball in his hand. He was fortunate to have watched his dad coach and was coached by him in basketball and baseball.

“Sports is one of the greatest teachers of life,” said Taylor. “It provides invaluable lessons about handling loss, suffering the unfortunate bounces, dealing with others and the importance of perseverance.”

He remains in contact with his high school coaches and some of his closest friends that he played football with. His high school javelin and basketball coach, George McCrillis, has become a lifelong friend and mentor.

“George has been one of the few constants in my life beyond my godparents and close friends,” said Taylor. “He has offered me guidance, lended his ear, and given me more laughs than I can account for; we talk nearly every day.”

McCrillis has been there for Taylor through good and bad times. He was there when Taylor hoisted the state championship trophy, when Taylor struggled with college, when Taylor’s father passed away, when he graduated from physical therapy school, and when Taylor proposed to his now fiancĂ©. Taylor will never forget the unending hug and consoling words McCrillis gave him at Taylor’s father’s wake. Taylor thanks God for McCrillis every day.

What stood out to McCrillis upon first meeting Taylor as a high school sophomore was his maturity and focus as well as his athletic ability. He spoke to McCrillis like an adult and showed an interest in McCrillis’s life.

“It’s hard for me to put into words the positive effect that Jackson has made in my life,” said McCrillis. He and I would ... get together when was home from college. He is a part of my family and always will be. I am super proud of him and what he has done with his life, and he will continue to do.”

On many occasions Taylor would return to Windham High School and speak to football or basketball teams before big games.

While Taylor was in college, his father’s health was deteriorating from ALS. McCrillis said what Taylor’s father went through had a major influence on Taylor earning a Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy.

After graduate school, Taylor became the executive director of the Police Athletic League (PAL) an after-school program through the Sheriff’s Office in St. Johns County, Florida that provides affordable sports programs and creates an environment where police and young people can interact.

“PAL provided the benefits of learning how to compete, fail and overcome adversity,” said Taylor. “I am proud of my time there and to say I was involved in ... that program means a great deal to me.”

Taylor worked for a couple years as a standard physical therapist but wanted to do more to fulfill the lives of others.

Taylor had been golfing and noticed proper performance training was missing from the sport; golfers weren’t aware of how to train or there was a lot of misinformation online about how to train effectively.

Taylor had been a strength trainer and coach for 10 years and now with his doctorate as a physical therapist, he felt he could really do some good for golfers and athletes everywhere. Golf Strong USA was born.

The goal of Golf Strong USA is for you to become the best version of yourself on and off the course. This goes for athletes of all sports or someone looking to improve through rehabilitation, strength training or nutrition.

“Jackson is great to work with,” said co-worker Dr. Tim Rivotto. “He is super passionate about what he does and that comes through in his great communication skills. His driving principles come through in every project he participates in, whether that is training his clients, providing a seminar to a group of community members, participating in charity events, or volunteering his time.”

Taylor’s advice to aspiring high school athletes who wish to play at the college level is direct – do it. One of the biggest regrets he hears from people is they did not play a sport in college. He says sports provide something to be responsible for and something to be a part of and it’s also an avenue in which you can meet new friends.

“The best version of yourself is built through having to apply greater pressure to yourself,” said Taylor. “Show up, work hard and only look at failure as an opportunity to get better.” <

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