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Early HHS grad becomes a Badger

HHS early graduate Morgan Taylor sports a University of Wisconsin sweatshirt in a senior picture. Photo submitted1 / 2
Hudson's Morgan Taylor, third from left, listens to the University of Wisconsin coaching staff offer instructions at a recent spring practice. Taylor graduated from Hudson High School early and enrolled at Wisconsin in January to join the Badgers for spring practices. Submitted photo2 / 2

Most graduating seniors have an entire summer off between high school and college. Morgan Taylor had 11 days.

Taylor completed her graduation requirements at Hudson High School this past Jan. 11. On Jan. 22, she moved into her dorm room at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, received her class schedule, and began spring practice with the Badger women's soccer team.

Taylor never stepped on the field as a member of the Raider soccer team. Instead, she honed her skills across the border with the St. Croix Soccer Academy and Minnesota Thunder Academy club teams. She was good enough to earn a soccer scholarship to the University of Wisconsin and graduated high school early to get a jump on her freshman year.

"Going straight from high school, and a week later being fully submersed in the college life isn't necessarily easy," she said. "But I'm working hard and starting to get the hang of everything. I'm glad I came early and do feel it's a good start to my college education and soccer career. I know I'm in the right spot and very happy I chose UW-Madison."

Taylor said the decision to play club soccer in Minnesota instead of with her high school team was a difficult one.

"It was a really hard decision to not play for them," she said. "I got a lot of grief from friends, family, and high school teachers that knew I played. Trust me, if I could have done both I would have."

Since both teams played in the spring, playing for both was out of the question. She said ultimately, playing in Minnesota gave her the exposure she needed to earn a Division 1 scholarship.

"At St Croix we traveled to many high level tournaments," she said. "This really helped me in getting exposure to coaches at Division 1 schools."

That exposure paid off when a number of Division 1 schools came knocking at her door, including Minnesota and Wisconsin. She made an oral commitment to Minnesota the day before her junior year in high school, but when Gopher coach Denney Wright resigned in May, 2012, she decided to pick Wisconsin.

Taylor said it wasn't easy approaching the Badger coach Paula Wilkins after she had turned her down once.

"It was very hard and a scary thing to do," she said. "I had shut that door and I had no idea if there was even a chance to open it again. I knew though that I had to take that chance and be willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to be a Badger and play for the coach and school I should've chosen to begin with. I feel very fortunate that the coach was willing to open that door again and get back up to speed on watching me play and talk seriously about what it would mean for me to be a Badger. It all came together from there."

Taylor had been aggressive with her college course requirements at Hudson since her freshman year. "Not because I had to, but because I wanted to get classes out of the way," she said. "I knew I wanted to focus hard on my studies and get my required classes done so if any opportunities came along in soccer I would be better positioned to take them."

She set a goal to graduate early, which meant spending some summers in the classroom, and taking some of the more difficult classes earlier rather than later. She still wasn't sure she could do it until speaking with Wilkins.

"I had mentioned that I could graduate early and go to college for the spring semester and she liked the idea," Taylor said.

"Both my new coach and assistant coach worked hard on that side, my mom and I worked hard on my side, and my teachers helped on that end to get everything scheduled and done to make it happen," she added. " I wouldn't say it was all easy but I would definitely say it was all worth it."

Taylor said she tried a number of other sports growing up, but there was too much standing around in T-ball, and middle school basketball resulted in a broken arm , surgery and a hospital stay that ended not only her basketball season but soccer season as well.

"That injury had a profound effect on my soccer career," she said. "At the time I thought it was an awful effect, but it probably helped propel me to where I am now."

She liked track but that conflicted with soccer in the spring, and tried cross country but didn't like running that far. "But I can look back and see that it was good that I did it for cross training and staying fit," she said.

Taylor said she's adjusting to life in Madison, although she's still waiting for a Moped she received for Christmas to arrive.

"I have never walked so much in my life!" she said.

She said she's also looking forward to returning to Hudson and taking part in the school graduation ceremony with her classmates June 15.

"I didn't know at first if I would be participating since I will have already spent a semester in college," she said. "After talking with my mom and thinking about this huge milestone, and thinking about so many high school events that I have missed out on since I was always busy playing club soccer, I decided I would. I'm looking forward to it, and being able to relax and slow down a little bit to celebrate for at least a month or two before having to get busy with soccer and back to college."

If anyone deserves a summer off, it's Taylor.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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