FEATURE – Taylor Mann’s plan of success in basketball was not going as she had hoped her freshman year of college, until she transferred to Dixie State University.
Mann, No. 22, currently plays center for the Red Storm women’s basketball team. But before transferring to DSU, she spent her first year of college at BYU-Hawaii. After a season of disappointing plays and few wins, the school wasn’t providing the career experience Mann had hoped for.
Though Mann’s team at BYU-Hawaii was below par, her personal accomplishments were not. Mann received PacWest Honor Roll four times and was the PacWest Freshman of the Year at BYU-Hawaii during the 2011-12 season. She broke the women’s basketball record for blocked shots in a single game, in a season and in a career.
“Since I’m dedicating a lot of time to basketball and working hard, I wanted to be successful, and I knew that Dixie was a place I could go to be successful,” Mann said.
Originally from Castle Dale, Mann said being close to her family is another reason she made the choice to come back to Utah.
“That’s actually one of the main reasons why I transferred to Dixie. I’m really, really close to my family, and Dixie was a great school and closer to my home than Hawaii was,” she said.
Due to the PacWest transfer rules, Mann had to redshirt her first year at DSU.
“I was able to practice with the team and I could sit on the bench and cheer, but I couldn’t travel and couldn’t play in any of the games,” she said. “It was fun watching my team win, but it’s not as fun as actually playing and helping contribute to the win.”
Mann said it’s challenging to be part of a team exclusively from the sidelines, but easy to remain a team player because of her enthusiasm for the sport.
“It’s about your passion and your heart. When you get into college and you’re playing a college sport, it is your job. You are there and fully dedicated, and you have so many things to do,” she said. “If you don’t completely love it, it will make you miserable. That’s another reason you have to love the sport. Having to go through all the conditioning and practicing and not being able to play was rough.”
Luckily for Mann, she grew up with a dad who shared the same passion as her.
“It’s something we’ve constantly worked on; during season, off season, out in our driveway. I guess it’s that love and passion that we both have for it is why I keep playing,” she said.
Mann wasn’t born a basketball player, however.
“I was really into soccer when I was young, but since our community was so small, they had to cut soccer because not enough people were signing up. So (my dad) bought ‘How to Coach Basketball for Dummies,’ and at the same time he was learning how to coach basketball, he was teaching me how to play it,” she said. “From the very get-go, he and I were both learning at the same time and reading the books together.”
Though Mann may seem to eat, breathe and sleep basketball, she said her favorite pastime is spending time with her nieces and nephews, and for a good reason.
“I have a problem growing up, so I love being with them because I can act like a kid whenever I want!” she said.
During her bench-life last season, Mann learned many valuable tools that will help her sports career and beyond.
“Basketball is a sport that teaches you things that go beyond basketball. You learn to cooperate with so many different individuals and personalities in order to function and make you really successful,” she said. “If you allow little things in life to get in the way, or clashes of personalities, it’s not going to be successful.”
With her eligibility active again, Mann is eager to play this season.
“We have a new coach this year and she is outstanding,” she said. “I love her enthusiasm and she puts a whole new spin on basketball that sparks a new love in every one of my teammates.”
If Mann’s attitude is equally winning come game time, DSU can expect to see great things from this athlete in the upcoming season.
Written by Katelyn Boulton for St. George Health & Wellness magazine and St. George News.
Boulton is a student at Dixie State University and works as an intern for St. George Health & Wellness.
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