Crowds cheered as senior Taylor Robertson and the McPherson High School girls basketball team took the Mid America Classic win, but there was one special person in her life who didn’t get a chance to witness it for himself.
Last May, tragedy struck for her family after Robertson’s father Dave died after six years of battling colon cancer.
Though he wasn’t physically in the stands, Robertson knew he was still cheering on the Lady Pups as they won the Mid America Classic for the first time in four years.
“That meant a lot, I know he’s proud of me and all my teammates, that we were able to go out and get it. It’s too bad he wasn’t able to see it in person,” Robertson said.
Even when her father was in bad condition, he would try to find a way to attend every game that he could without missing a minute of his daughter on the court.
Robertson’s biggest influence that helped reach her potential was her father. She and her father would spend most of their hours together on the court working on her game. She would be working on her shooting, while Dave would rebound for her.
“He’s always been a big factor for her, so it’s always on her mind,” Bullpups head coach Chris Strathman said. “They spent so much time together in the gym. Her first thought tonight would be, one we got the win. To get that championship is just something he never got to witness but it’s something special for her.”
Her teammates have always showed love and respect for Robertson. They would mourn for her after her father’s passing. Including her closest teammate Mandi Cooks, who has been tight with Robertson since the sixth grade. She was there to comfort Robertson and her family after hearing the sad news. Dave also coached Cooks while both she and Robertson were in middle school.
“He was a turning point for me,” Cooks said. “ He was the one who told me that I could really go far in the sport. It’s a hard loss without him here. But he’s never forgotten. We always think about him. I think (Taylor) is playing for him and doing what he’s taught her to do and I think that’s awesome. It’s a hard loss and she’s handling it great and I’m proud of her for doing that.”
Robertson made her name known in her junior season when she he broke McPherson’s program record in scoring average at 24.3, total points of 582, field-goal percentage of 61.9 percent, and free-throw percentage of 91.5 percent. It led to her to be named the Gatorade Player-of-the-Year.
Most recently, Robertson broke McPherson High School’s all-time leading score record at 1,594 points.
“She’s been phenomenal. She has been awesome to coach,” Strathman said. “Very coachable kid and a wonderful kid.”
What stood out about Robertson according to her head coach and teammates, other than her elite talents at point guard, is her work ethic on the court before and after practice is just as superb as she is during a game.
“She just works so hard in her game. You can see that when you are watching her play,” Strathman said. “She does a lot of work in the gym both in practices and in games, and it’s just countless hours on the run. She earns every bit of it of those accolades.”
Prior to the Classic, she averaged 24.6 points per game and shooting 60 percent of her shots this season. With Robertson being a record breaker, in her humble heart, she avoids being the center of attention and doesn’t feed into her statistics as long as the Lady Pups are winning their games every night.
“My main goal isn’t to score points,”Robertson said. “It’s just go out and do whatever it takes to win for the team. I didn’t feel any pressure about any of that. It just kind of happened and I don’t really think about it as much.”
Division-1 programs from the Big-12, Pac-12 and schools from the midwest region all wanted a piece of the 28th-ranked point guard in the country. With all the major offers she received throughout her career, Robertson decided to take her talents to Sooner country as the 5-9 senior signed her letter of intent to play for Oklahoma University next season.
The Oklahoma Sooners would be near and dear to her heart because it is Dave’s favorite team. Even being from Buhler, he always represented the Boomer Sooners. It was no question that she would live out her father’s dream in playing for his favorite school.
Robertson represents what McPherson is all about and is what makes this team special every year. She plays in an atmosphere with major support from her family, fanbase and teammates looking out for one another. Now at 12-1, expectations remain high for Robertson and the Lady Pups team going forward.
“We just have an expectation that we are going to go in every game and give it our best and try to win every single play and win every game,” Robertson said.
Dave may not be around to see the Lady Pups play in person and see his superstar daughter lead the way, but Robertson knows that he will always watch her from above and will never stop being proud of her from beyond the grave.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_