Growing up in Clifton Park, Jeff Taylor and his sister Valerie were always athletically active, and they have always been close. Sure, there have been the usual brother-sister spats, but for the most part, it has been a great relationship.
When Valerie was preparing to look at colleges to attend during her senior year at Albany Academy, there was only one place she wanted to go — Union.
Jeff is a junior defenseman for the Union hockey team. Valerie, a freshman, just completed her first season as a forward on the Dutchwomen’s soccer team.
“She visited here with the soccer team,” Jeff said. “I had a little intuition she was going to come here. I was excited. It’s always exciting to watch your siblings play soccer in college and to cheer them on.”
“When you go to a school that good and that close and be able to watch them eight miles away,” said dad Scott Taylor, “it was extremely exciting.”
Jeff and Valerie are graduates of Albany Academy. Jeff graduated in 2012, and the spent the 2012-13 season playing for the U.S. Hockey League’s Dubuque Fighting Saints before coming to Union the following year.
Valerie graduated last spring. She led Albany Academy in scoring three straight years and was a three-time team MVP.
Jeff was a big influence in Valerie’s decision to attend Union.
“I look up to him a lot,” Valerie said. “Seeing how far he has come just makes me want to push myself. I know Union is a good school, so I strived to come here.”
The parents didn’t put any pressure on Valerie to join Jeff at Union.
“She wanted to go there,” said their mom Angela Taylor.
Jeff and Valerie, along with sister Alyssa, who attends SUNY-Cortland and played soccer before concussions forced her to end her career, have always been a close-knit unit.
“We always hung out a lot,” Valerie said. “We were all active. We played a lot of sports.”
“We usually got dragged around to each other’s sporting events,” Jeff said. “I would go to their gymnastics or soccer games. We went to a lot of each other’s events over the years and really liked to cheer each other on.
“Most of the times, we really didn’t want to go. But our parents pushed us to go watch each other. I think it paid off. It’s definitely fun now.”
While she enjoys watching Jeff play now for the Dutchmen, Valerie didn’t pay much attention to his games when he played youth hockey.
“Me and my sister would run around the hockey rink,” Valerie said. “We would find ways to entertain ourselves. A few times, we would watch him. But most likely, we were causing havoc somewhere else.”
Naturally, there were some dust-ups.
“There was the usual brother/sister fighting at times,” Jeff said. “Nothing really out of the ordinary. Just a lot of little stuff, like who got to sit in the front seat in the car, or who did the dishes. Just little stuff to get under each other’s skin.”
Something out of the ordinary is that Valerie once owned 24 animals. At times, it was a Noah’s Ark atmosphere at the Taylor household.
“We had cats, a dog, fish, turtles, hamsters, lizards, birds,” Valerie said. “We had quite a few.”
Even though they are together at Union, their class schedules make it difficult sometimes to get together.
“We have classes on opposite days, so we don’t see each other that much,” Valerie said. “But we’ll see each other in the training room before practice. We’ll say hi.”
“After games, I usually always see her. She stays around,” Jeff said. “I think I’ve seen her only once on campus during the school week.”
While they don’t see each other much, Jeff is always there for Valerie to dispense advice on college life.
“I try to keep an eye on her a little bit,” Jeff said. “I’m not going to hound her. I’m going to let her have her fun.”
And Valerie appreciates the guidance.
“I’ve asked him about a lot of stuff, like classes and teachers and how the campus works,” Valerie said. “He’s actually been pretty helpful. I like having him here.”
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Categories: College Sports