Mavericks Personified: Ivorita Taylor
Running toward success
Pick up the phone and call Ivorita Taylor. If the bubbly Jamaican dialect doesn’t get your attention, her message of making the most of every opportunity will.
“At this time tomorrow, tomorrow will be today and today will be yesterday, so please make the best of today,” she says in her voice mail greeting.
Inspirational, motivated and driven, Taylor has all the qualities of a true maverick.
She found track and field her path out of a modest neighborhood in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, an agricultural and tourist community known more for its mangos than athletes. Her mother operates the corner grocery store, and her father is a farmer.
“My neighborhood was very poor, and for a lot of the kids, high school was as far as it goes,” said Taylor, the second of six children. “It is hard for people to get into college, harder to get a college loan. If you do make it to college, there are no jobs to repay the loans. Being here (in the United States), I realize how fortunate people are. We are so blessed and lucky. So many students would love the opportunity to go to college.”
She was friends with former Mavericks track standout Elston Cawley, a six-time All-American and member of the 1996 Jamaican Olympic team, and his sister, Candeese, also a former UT Arlington track athlete. Early in her high school senior year, Taylor chose to follow the path of her friends, picking UT Arlington over the University of Miami and Rice University.
Leaving was difficult. But she looked within herself and moved forward, knowing that a degree would provide more security for her family. Away from home, she found a father figure in track and field coach John Sauerhage.
“He has not only been a coach, but a friend,” Taylor said. “You show him respect and he will show it right back to you. (The team) would go out on long runs and coach would go out with us. You don’t see coaches out on runs often.”
Sauerhage has equal respect for the award-winning scholar-athlete.
“Ivorita has had to grow up a lot quicker than most girls. She brings to the women’s team a true role model. She cares about everyone on the team. She has become one of the top runners in an event that we have a long and talented tradition in.”
That’s the 800 meters—a race in which UT Arlington has produced seven of the past nine conference champions, including Taylor in 2005 as a junior.
As a sophomore, she emerged as one of the top middle distance runners in school history. She earned all-SLC honors during the indoor season as a member of the distance medley relay and as a third-place finisher in the 800. Her 2:10.02 at the NCAA regionals last year ranks among the top five times in UT Arlington history.
In all, Taylor has earned six all-conference honors. Her next goal? Lowering her 800-meter time. Red-shirted for the 2006 outdoor season, she’s eligible to compete next year.
“Last year I made it to regionals after being injured for half of the season. The thing you learn at this level is it’s not just coming out here and working. You have to eat right and get your rest. I’m going to give it my best shot. You never know if I can get to the national championship level.”
An accounting major who graduated summa cum laude in May, Taylor was named the 2005 Hibernia Bank/SLC Student Athlete of the Year in cross country and the 2006 honoree for indoor track.
“I have had this plan for the last six years,” she said. “I don’t see myself being in track in my 30s like some athletes. My ultimate plan is to be well-established in the world of business, working for a big company or owning a company.”
And making the most of her opportunities.
— Bill Petitt