Call me “Old School,” but I get excited when I look at a community college’s sports team roster. I like to see athletes from the community. I know a coach’s job is to put the best athletes from the college’s student population on the field, or court, or diamond, but I love to write about local athletes.
Imagine my glee when I received an email from Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3), detailing the women’s basketball team’s big win over Broome Community College. The email contained this line: “Taylor Day (Brooktondale/Ithaca H.S.) led the team in scoring with 16 points to go with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.” I reached out to Taylor, and she was kind enough to bring me up to speed on her experience as a TC3 Panther.
Backing up, I asked Day about her pathway to becoming a collegiate athlete, and she said she had grown up playing in AAU leagues coached by Jeff Gorski, the coach of the Ithaca High School girls team, and played up and down the east coast.
After a solid career as a four year varsity player for the Little Red, Taylor was recruited to play at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, but those plans did not come to fruition. She is now a 2-year starter at TC3, and I asked her about the adjustments necessary to play the college game.
“Well, for one thing, the players are bigger,” the 5’11” frontcourt player offered. “They are also a lot quicker. It’s definitely a different style of play.”
Day has made some other adjustments as well. “As a second-year player, I have tried hard to work on my leadership skills,” she said. “We have eleven players on the team, and many of them are freshmen.”
Taylor made another astute observation, saying, “In high school and A.A.U. ball, you play with the same players for several years. At a 2-year school, you have to learn to play with your teammates quickly.”
So far this season, Day has started all nine of the Panthers’ games, and is averaging 15 points per game. She is also contributing in other stat categories, as she has pulled down 34 defensive rebounds, a few offensive boards and blocked five shots.
Looking forward, she said, “I definitely plan to transfer to a SUNY school and keep playing.” She has visited SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and hopes to check out more campuses and get a sense of the chemistry of several other teams.
“I’m undecided right now,” Day said. “I have been recruited by several schools, and I want to take the time to visit several of them.”
In perusing the TC3 men’s roster, I saw that listed among the names of players from some of the state’s biggest and best programs was Ithaca High alum Zachary Peacock. Peacock is a freshman, and has seen limited playing time thus far, but he has played in three games and has contributed to numerous stat lines.
An update on a local basketball player who grabbed a lot of headlines a few years ago…
Jeff Foote was a decent player at Spencer-Van Etten, and when he graduated, he was seven feet tall but had yet to fill out. He went to St. Bonaventure, got pushed around a lot, and saw little success. He transferred to Cornell, gained 60 pounds of muscle in 3 years (while, astoundingly, adding 5 inches to his vertical jump) and helped lead the Big Red to three Ivy League titles and a historic appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16. After a game in which the Big Red nearly upset the legendary Kansas Jayhawks in Kansas, the Jayhawks’ head coach Bill Self said, “Cornell has a big man who can play with anyone on the country.”
Foote had a solid pro career in Europe, played a bit in the NBA, but has now traded in his gym clothes for more business-like attire. I saw him over the holidays, and he looks great. He graduated from the University of Miami Law School, he passed the Florida Bar, and when I asked him if my S-VE school tax dollars got him where he is, he laughed.