SOUTH SALT LAKE — Taylor Proctor has just decided that this will be the best practice of her entire life.
The senior captain of Granite High's volleyball team doesn't merely walk but rather bounces from one activity to the next, whether it is something boring like conditioning or something a little more satisfying like hitting drills. Her mouth rarely stops moving, and it effortlessly shifts gears between encouraging teammates, cracking clever one-liners and trying to drum up support for organized team activities. And if anyone dare think that there has ever been a more enthusiastic athlete, she'll bring the whole team in for a rafter-rattling cheer.
"Taylor has the best attitude on the team," says head coach Amy Jones.
"She's a natural leader with a dynamic personality. She has managed to bring both focus and enthusiasm to a very young team."
The most visible indicator of her attitude is the grin that seems to be permanently plastered to her face, reminiscent of a little kid who just learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. Her opponents, however, need to be careful not to let the smile fool them; Taylor also has athletic ability in spades and a killer instinct that most linebackers would envy.
Any doubters need only watch and note the swagger in her step as she lines up for a simple hitting drill, takes a less-than-perfect set and turns it into a flawless kill. Like all truly dominant athletes, Taylor does more than simply get results, she makes it look easy. Her impressive ability has earned the respect of her teammates and the rest of the student body as well.
"Taylor is one of the best female athletes that I have ever seen," says fellow student T.C. Castillo. "I'm just glad she doesn't play football, because she would probably kill me at that, too."
The scariest part of that statement is that it just might be true. Taylor has made dominance a habit in much more than just volleyball. As a member of Granite's track team, she medaled in the high jump at last year's state meet. And besides being competitive in athletics, Taylor has always managed to stay at the top of her class academically and has been the first chair cellist in Granite High's orchestra since the day she first set foot on campus.
"I realize that I have a lot going on in my life right now," she admits. "But I've been involved in a whole bunch of different things for as long as I can remember, so I guess I'm kind of used to it."
In spite of all of her accomplishments, Taylor has avoided any sense of complacency by constantly presenting herself with new challenges. This season, for example, she hopes to perfect her digs and her slide hit, a rather difficult one-footed maneuver that most people wouldn't be able to identify, let alone perform with any degree of success.
For now, however, Taylor doesn't want to hear about any past accolades or even speculation on this year's team. She's content to focus on the task at hand, until this time tomorrow, when she'll once again be busy having the best practice of her entire life.