Taylor Policay receives the ball during her time as a TC3 Panther.

Taylor Policay receives the ball during her time as a TC3 Panther. 

 

Well those 10 years sure went by fast…

Back in the summer 2010, I was traipsing around the state watching travel softball, and my daughter had a teammate named Taylor Policay. I had been friends with Taylor’s dad, Tom (who played football at Ithaca College, taught in the Ithaca City Schools and has coached extensively), and given Tom’s gregarious nature, I assumed Taylor would have a lot to say. I was wrong. She smiled a lot, listened a lot, and she used that stored up energy to just smash the holy hell out of the ball. 

I saw Taylor play high school ball at Lansing (class of 2012) where she was All-IAC in softball and basketball, and I was pleased that she would play at TC3. I love covering local athletes in collegiate sports, and it wasn’t long before Policay got her bearings at the next level. She starting cranking home runs on a regular basis, and she hit nine out of the park as a freshman. She set a record with two bombs in a playoff game, and she would finish with 14 homers in her two years as a Panther. 

After TC3, Taylor went to SUNY Cortland and played club softball, choosing to focus instead on academics. As a senior, she did an internship at Wells College (during which time the college was putting the pieces in place to restart their softball program), and as a first-year graduate student at Cortland, she served as an assistant at Wells. She served in that capacity until head coach Erin Walstenholme took an assistant coaching job at Shenedoah University in Virginia. When Walstenholme made that move, Mike Lindberg, Wells College’s Athletic Director elevated Policay to the head coaching position, saying in a press release, “Her commitment to the players and dedication to teaching makes Coach Policay an excellent fit with the Wells College community."

I caught up with Coach Policay at Instant Replay Sports (where she has worked part-time for several years) and I asked her about the program’s goals for the 2020 season. “Our goal for this year,” Taylor replied, “is to be better than we were last year.” 

To be sure, college programs live and die with their pitching staff, and Policay said, “Getting pitchers and catchers is always a big recruiting challenge,” and she said she has turned many of her initial efforts toward that end. 

When asked about the team’s spring trip, Policay said, “We’re leaving for Myrtle Beach on March 7, and we’ll play eight games there.” She added, “I’ll be working on determining what our best lineup will be, and while I already know for the most part, I’m expecting there will some switches when we get a look at what we have.”

When the Express returns home, they will open up one day before the first day of spring, and play on March 19 and 20. There are two local players on the roster, as Southern Cayuga’s Brittany Meade returns and freshman Hannah Harmon—a former Spencer-Van Etten Panther—will be battling for playing time. 

For scheduling information, visit www.wells-express.com.much 

(Given my desire to stay alive, I would like to add that much of Taylor’s success can also be attributed to her mom, Barb.) 

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It was a proud night for Ithaca High Athletics, as two recently-retired coaches, Frank Welch and Rich Bernstein, were inducted into the Section IV Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020. 

Welch graduated from Ithaca High in 1971 and went on to coach for 42 years (he was Section IV Coach of the Year six times). His teams won 411 games, 19 Section IV Class A titles and he sent dozens of players on to play at the collegiate level. 

Bernstein’s boy’s and girl’s track and field teams won 29 STAC titles, and were chosen by the NYS Sportswriters Association as the eighth best team for the 1990s. Rich also sent many athletes to the next level, and he was honored to be chosen as a coach for the Maccabiah Games. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing both of these stellar coaches many times, and I recall very clearly asking several college coaches about the Little Red athletes that came up through Welch and Bernstein’s programs. Every college coach said the same thing: That those players came in with the physical skills and mental toughness to make valuable contributions to their teams. •

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