ROCK, Ark.—Sophomore Taylor
Ford and freshman Taylor Gault didn’t
click together as teammates and friends because they have the same first name
or because they shared the same number. Their relationship on and off the court
has been the driving force for the UALR women’s basketball team as the Trojans
get ready for the team’s third-straight NCAA appearance.
Ford came to Little Rock
from Indianapolis, Ind. and Warren Central High School but calls her home
Columbia, Mo. The 5-9 guard played a role in last season’s first Sun Belt
Conference Championships title and second NCAA appearance.
This season, Ford had to
take on the role of point guard and completely change her frame of mind on the
court. As a sophomore, she had to step into a leadership position.
“It has been difficult for
me,” said Ford. “I understand that role now. In the beginning, I was getting
extremely frustrated. I had to learn that what I do affects everybody else. I
think that is how I affect Taylor Gault a lot. If I stay calm and keep her
calm, then the whole team will stay calm. It is like a waterfall effect.”
Gault traveled just a few
miles south from Conway, Ark. to start her career with the Trojans. A 5-8
guard, Gault wasn’t sure about the unknowns in the beginning or if she would
even get to success she has now.
“Honestly, it has been hard,”
said Gault. “At first, I didn’t know if I was going to play, how I was going to
help, or what my role was going to be. It has been really different. I have
been frustrated too.”
Despite coming from
different places and having different roles for the team, there are actually
more similarities between the two Taylors than differences.
“I think we are alike in
the way that we are both competitive,” said Ford. “We both like to win, and we
will do whatever it takes to do it.”
Gault added, “We are both
competitive. We both get frustrated when we don’t do well or our team doesn’t.
I think that is a good quality, that we are both competitive.”
This togetherness that has
formed in the short amount of time has been part of the catalyst that propelled
a 3-8 women’s basketball team to a second-straight championship and a chance to
play at home in the NCAA tournament.
Before the ball tips
against Delaware on Sunday afternoon, this duo will be getting each other and
the team ready for the big dance. It started with the Sun Belt Tournament, and
the noticeable on court interaction between the Taylors.
“I know that for us to
win, we need to have Taylor Gault playing at her best,” said Ford. “It was her
first tournament, and I just wanted to make sure she didn’t get lost in that
game. I didn’t want her to feel like she has to do well, or she has to do all
of this for us. I try to make her feel like this is just any other game and not
to be nervous. I want her to know I am here for her and in her corner.”
Gault believes that Ford
helps her more that she helps Ford.
“I think she helps me out
more than anything,” said Gault. “Off the court, she is a cool person, and I
feel like I can talk to her about anything. She is probably the closest person
on the team to me. On the court, she helps me a lot too. During a game, she
will come to me on the court and tell me to calm down and get it together.”
At such a young stage in
their careers, the Taylors have made a mark on UALR women’s basketball history
for today and the future.
To quote Pat Bradley, they
are TNT. Just like their new nickname, the duo is explosive on the court and
combines well off the court. The two were “Taylor” made for the UALR women’s
basketball team. The future is endless for Taylor 1 and Taylor 2.