Coal Ridge High phenom Taylor Wiescamp signs on with Northeast Junior College
An ordinary household basement has become a handy tool for Colorado student-athletes trying to emulate what they’re missing on the court.
Take Taylor Wiescamp, a star, three-sport athlete at Coal Ridge High School. Despite the fall high school sports season seeing delays due to COVID-19 issues, Wiescamp’s strict diet of basement body work has helped hoist her to a milestone.
Wiescamp on Wednesday signed her official letter of intent to play volleyball for Northeast Junior College in Sterling.
“The days I don’t have school and we don’t have practice, I’m usually downstairs in my basement, working out,” she said. “I’m doing either conditioning or weight lifting — just trying to keep with that.”
To be fair, it’s Wiescamp’s discipline and dedication to perfecting the craft that deserves most of the credit. So sorry, basement — we tried.
There are all sorts of complications Wiescamp had to overcome in order to ink the pen. It took a bit of ingenuity.
Such inventiveness started to spawn when the now senior was going to close out her junior year in track and field. As a sophomore, Wiescamp finished top six in all Class 3A Colorado in throwing sports and was looking to continue her reign over the Western Slope League.
Then comes COVID-19, a worldwide pandemic that shuttered Colorado high school sports for not just the rest of the spring season but into fall.
“Honestly, that’s probably been the hardest thing this year,” Wiescamp said. “COVID’s really messed things up for athletes all around and it’s just hard knowing that my team has been preparing for so long that we’re not even sure if we get a season or not.
“That’s been mentally exhausting and hard to try and stay tuned in and trying to keep an open mind that we’ll have a season.”
Even regular schooling amid COVID-19 has been a bit of a challenge.
“I always hated waking up for school in the years before, and now I look forward to it because I get to go out and socialize and have fun,” Wiescamp said. “I didn’t realize how fast it could be taken away until last year.”
Athletically speaking, however, Wiescamp is already a well-established staple within Coal Ridge sports. During her junior year of volleyball, she was named 3A Player of the Year and was named to the 3A All-WSL first team. She ended the 2019 season for the Titans amassing 246 kills with a kill percentage of 56%, plus 168 service points and an ace percentage of 13.7%. On the defensive side, she led the team with 116 total blocks on the season.
“She’s the kind of girl that is a real centerpiece for everyone around her,” said Coal Ridge Dean of Students, Athletic Director and track coach Ben Kirk. “That makes a team look good … that’s Taylor.”
Off the court and field, Kirk said Wiescamp also participates in National Honor Society, student council and the captain’s council.
“In all areas — academically, socially and then athletically, she’s just a stand out,” Kirk said. “She’s just a very cool kid.”
With quite the resume backing her, it helped Wiescamp connect with college programs. In other words, Wiescamp took some initiative.
“So, I reached out to them (NJC) in the hopes of responding,” she said.
By July, NJC coach Mackenzie Chrisman reached back. That moment, Wiescamp said, proved to be a confidence booster, “knowing such a great coach wanted a person like me on their team.”
“I’m super excited, just for the opportunity to even be able to play on,” Wiescamp said. “I feel like I chose a really good school, so I’m super excited for what the future holds with that.”
As to how exactly a college program goes about selecting a high school athlete amid a worldwide pandemic is a good question. In Wiescamp’s case, it was all about using technology to her advantage.
“I sent her some film,” Wiescamp said. “She said that she liked how well I could block in the middle, but that I need to work on getting faster.
“I’ve known that,” she added. “Bigger teams on the Front Range, they’re faster.”
After Chrisman looked at film, Wiescamp said she invited her out to perform in person, said Wiescamp.
Wiescamp, whose collegiate prospects also included Otero Junior College, Western Colorado Community College and Metro State University, said she picked NJC for its small-town feel, as well as its stellar athletics.
“I just realized that I really enjoyed the home-like, small-town vibe that a junior college gave,” she said. “Athletics wise, when I went to different colleges, the junior colleges had the best athletes.”
Until then, Wiescamp continues to take weight-training classes, hit open gyms and spend time in her basement as she hopes to finish out her final season in high school where she belongs — on the court.
“I’m expecting to have a pretty weird season with what’s going on,” she said of the reschedule volleyball season, which is to be played in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s realigned Season C in the spring. “I’m just looking forward to being able to play with my team one last time and the girls that have been playing with me all of high school. I’m just excited to get back on my court and play the sport that I love.”
Wiescamp looks to study sports medicine and go on to a four-year school after junior college.
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If all goes according to plan, graduation will serve as a grand opening of sorts for the school’s newest addition, a state-of-the-art videoboard and sound system for the football field.