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Taylor Knoth…..Following His Dreams

March 14th, 2010

Who wouldn’t want to be in Taylor’s shoes as he is following his dreams of becoming a professional athlete. I met Taylor when he was 12 years old and for the last 7 years we have been working together to perfect his game. When I met him I knew he had what it took to be a National Champion, but we had to refine his game. Together, one aspect at a time, we built his game from the ground up and now he is #41 on the IRT (International Racquetball Tour-Men’s Professional Racquetball Organization) rankings. Since we began working together he has won every age group at the Jr. National Championships starting with Boys 12 and Under, 14 and Under, 16 and Under and this year he will be going for 18 and Under, which is his last year in juniors. By winning his age divisions at Jr. Nationals he earned a spot on the Jr. National Racquetball Team allowing him to represent his country at the World Champions each year. He has also won the H.S. National Championships 3 years in a row from 2007-2009, not an easy feat. All in all he has won 14 National Championships, 4 World Championships and 3 H.S. Championships. Now he is testing the soils and playing Open Tournaments and Professional Tournaments, trying to qualify into the main draw.

All of this DID NOT just happen. It has taken allot of hard work, dedication, commitment, support from parents/family, desire, passion and the will to be the best. Let’s see how it all came together:

Fran – “What does it mean to you to be able to “Follow Your Dreams” of being a National and World Champion and now trying to turn pro?”
Taylor – “What it means to me to follow my dreams would be doing what I love to do for the rest of my life. My dream would be to continue to play Racquetball at the highest level and be able to make a living off it. Becoming a national and world champion was great, but my true dream has always been to play with the pros of whom I’ve idolized my entire life.”

Fran – “What are your goals…school and racquetball?”
Taylor – “My number one goal would definitely be to get a solid education so that I can lead a stable lifestyle when I get out of college. I want to get through 4 years of school and focus on that before going all out focusing 100% on Racquetball. Right now it is very tough to juggle both Racquetball and school, but I am definitely doing the best job I possibly can being gone almost every weekend for a Tournament and missing almost every Friday of classes. I continue to maintain a very high G.P.A yet still compete in the highest level of Racquetball. After getting through school or even my last two years of school my goal would be to play the pro tour all of the time if my financial situation will allow it. I am definitely looking forward to traveling around the country competing with the top pros and seeing if I will be able to excel at that next level. My number one goal in Racquetball would be to crack the top 8 by the time I’m 24.”

Fran – “Why do you think you need a coach?”
Taylor – I need a coach to see what I can’t out there on there court. There is so much going through my mind each rally and I miss a ton of things that even spectators are able to notice. A coach is definitely necessary to have outside the court for me. I tend to not want to take timeouts when my opponents get on rolls of four or five points and that momentum is usually which causes me to lose the matches that I do.”

Fran – “Most importantly “why Fran Davis as your coach”?”
Taylor – “Fran is so important to have outside my court because we have been working together for numerous years now and no one knows my game better than her. She knows when I need that timeout and she can analyze the game so critically and has such a high racquetball I.Q. that she can play out how the entire rest of the game will go if I tweak my game just a little bit during those timeouts.”

Fran – “What changes in your game have you made in your game since working with Fran?”
Taylor– “I have become an overall smarter player since working with Fran. I have incorporated more passes and higher percentage of shots than ever before. I have learned to force my opponents to be the ones to make the mistakes by shooting the higher percentage shot including ceiling balls and passes. I have rarely made unforced errors since having Fran as my coach.”

Fran – “How important is your fitness level and being mentally tough?”
Taylor – “I feel these two parts of my game are the most important aspects to get my game to that next level. The only thing that is holding me back is my mental game. At junior worlds every year I have lost to the same guy not because my game was weaker but because I was not mentally strong and in as good shape. I knew I had the shots that this player had but I just lost it mentally and gave away too many points that should not have been as easy for him to win. I have been increasing my stamina and fitness level as of late and I feel that I will be more than ready next year to win my first and last junior worlds.”

Fran – “How important is it for your coach to know Taylor….on and off the court?”
Taylor – “It is extremely important for my coach to know my game-style and my personality on and off the court. I am a very humble player as well as person. When I’m on the court I rarely show any emotion, and off the court I am a very quiet person. This is important to know because although I may look on the court as if I don’t care because I am very straight faced and show rare emotions I really am fired up inside and just focused on the match at hand. Outside of the court I am also very quiet, but I make up for that with my diligent work habits. I take everything I do and complete it to the fullest. I never give up and will continue to work at anything until I get what I want accomplished done.”

Fran – “What about your support from Mom, Dad and rest of family and friends?”
Taylor – “My family is the most supportive group of people I could ever ask for. No matter how far the tournament is or how busy they are with work, they still manager to get me to any tournament I have ever wanted to go to. They are always right outside the court cheering me on and have rarely missed a match. They are not only supportive of me but also very good role models. They have developed me into not only a successful athlete but also a successful human being. I owe everything I have ever learned to them and I couldn’t ask for better parents. As for my brother, he is my motivation and what drives me to be the best person I can be. At a very young age, he developed a disorder called cerebral palsy, which affects the brain stem and the brains ability to function correctly. The day he was diagnosed with the disability the doctor said he would never be able to speak or walk. To this day he is doing better than ever. He not only walks and runs but also is learning many words and is even putting some sentences together. He is a huge inspiration to me and comes to every one of my games with me. Hes what keeps me working as hard as I do and I want to succeed for him because I know he wishes he could play. I realize how lucky I am with him as my brother and never take anything for advantage because I know how hard he has it and it just kills me to see him with his disability because he has the biggest heart ever and never lets any moment of his life bring him down. He lives every moment to the fullest and he is what has driven me to become who I am today and will continue to be. I am a much better person because of my brother. He is everything to me.”

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