A paragon of leadership

Photo courtesy of Taylor Butler.

Photo courtesy of Taylor Butler.

Isabel Paez, Reporter

Every team needs a leader to be successful. A good one is hard to come by, but a great leader is even rarer.

A great leader is someone who can lead by example, who is willing to take action, is calm under pressure, and who understands the needs of the team as a whole. The North High Scholars Bowl team found such a leader in Taylor Butler.

At the end of last year Former captain Sadie Bakeberg passed on the mantle of Scholars Bowl team captain to a surprised but delighted Taylor.

“I was really excited; I honestly didn’t expect it because the 2019-2020 season was my first year in Scholars Bowl,” Taylor said thinking back on how she felt the night she was named captain.

Even though it may have come as a surprise to Taylor, it came as no surprise to those who had observed her throughout the season when she was still captain for the JV team.

“Mr. Cornett (assistant Coach) and I selected her as a JV captain last season and when our previous captain graduated it was clear Taylor was the logical replacement. She consistently put in some of the most work on our team the past few years, and always sought to understand the rules of game play. She is a natural leader who without really even trying leads by good example. She is calm and collected and respectful, which is essential in close match. In short, she embodied exactly the characteristics a captain should have.” Scholars Bowl coach Andrew McCoskey states.

He continued.

“The Captain’s role in Scholars Bowl is a delicate one. Taylor has to be able to perform, advocate for her team and think about the gameplay (scoring, challenging questions if there was an issue) simultaneously. Coaches aren’t allowed to speak during a round, meaning all the pressure is on the Captain to act as a sort of ‘player-coach’.”

Indeed, calm, collected, and respectful is the perfect way to describe Ms. Butler in a match. When an answer is being called into question in a game Taylor wastes no time in respectfully debating a compromise between the two teams. When necessary she also knows how to be assertive to ensure a positive outcome for the play, keeping that delicate balance of a player-coach.

In and out of games, Taylor has the best interests of her team at heart. She is encouraging, understanding, and genuinely cares for her teammates.

“Taylor did amazing as a team captain. She has been on the team throughout her high-school career and cared for all of us in and out of practices and meets. I think a lot of North sports, because we are a sport, get discouraged by our track record… Taylor did not care about that and fostered the best in us,” team member Allison Waldt shared.

Fellow team member Mal Evans shared their own thoughts.

“Taylor as a captain was amazing, she always understood if we had something come up and was very flexible with practices.”

Although the captain’s plans for a more engaging after school practice on Mondays were nipped in the bud thanks to the novel Coronavirus, Scholars Bowl continued to have practice after school Monday and Wednesdays which would eventually transition to being completely online practice. From the beginning of the long season (from October to February), Taylor took the initiative to run an extra practice on Tuesdays by herself.

“I took up the extra practice because in the beginning we started with Monday and Wednesday, I thought the virtual practice on Tuesdays would be a nice laid-back thing where we could just have a fun practice,” Taylor explained.

This extra time taken to sharpen players’ abilities was noticed and coach McCoskey credits these practices with helping the team perform better this year. Adding to the long list of things that made Taylor a great fit for leader of the team.

“Taylor did an extraordinary job as Captain. Not only did she take her job seriously and prepared for it, she led by example and by doing so pushed her fellow teammates do the same. Our season, that we consider as being very good and very competitive is due in majority to her efforts,” Coach McCoskey said.

Enthusiastically tackling each tournament was part of the very competitive season.

“Our little close-knit group did so amazing and I would say a triumph was how eager everyone was, I think it definitely was a big factor of how well we did this year,” Said Taylor.

With every season, however, there are challenges. This year there were far less tournaments, many of which were played online, and for a part of the season practices were online too which is not as fulfilling as an in-person practice. For the team captain it was also the last year of a high school career that was being conducted over a screen every day.

“It was a big challenge to stay motivated, but I looked forward to practices as it was nice to have something fun to do after being in draining classes for 8 hours,” She said.

When asked what did keep her motivated Taylor had this to say.

“The team. Without the team and coaches, I don’t know what I would have done. Obviously, Scholars Bowl is fun by itself but the people is what made it so special to me.”

Now that the Scholars Bowl season has ended, Taylor’s last year as a student at North High will be quick to follow. She plans on attending WSU and has an interest in STEM, a bright future for a bright person.

“I just want to say how much I’m going to miss this group of people and how proud I am of every single one of them. I am so grateful for McCoskey and Cornett for everything they’ve done for me and for the whole team,” Taylor said.

The effort and time she poured into the team that she helped built will leave behind a strong foundation for the following year, leaving a good example for those who played with her.

That same time and effort made a lasting impression on her team.

“Even though it’s my second year and I’ve only had one other captain, Taylor is definitely my favorite,” Mal said about Butler.

“I think she was an amazing coach and is a fantastic person. I am honored to have gotten to work, learn, and play with her,” Allison said.

And on her coaches.

“We will miss her very much…Mr. Cornett and I know she’ll have great success in whatever she puts her mind and heart into. I would encourage students reading this to come check out Scholars Bowl next season and remember that hard work pays off, Taylor is great example of that,” McCoskey commented.

Before that next season, however, Scholars Bowl will say good-bye to someone who will be dearly missed, a great student, captain, and friend.