Every high school athlete's dream is to win a State Championship. All want it- but few live it. For Tayler Menard and the South Walton Lady Seahawk basketball team, that dream became reality when they captured the 1A title last week.
On Wednesday night in Lakeland, the Lady Seahawks captured the first state championship in school history, beating Chipley for the Class 1A crown. For Tayler, the win was the perfect ending to her career.
"When the final buzzer blew, and I realized that was my final game, I knew right then and there that all four years were worth it," she said, fighting back tears. "When I looked up, and I saw the home team was ahead, I bawled and just collapsed to the floor. It was an amazing feeling."
The four year letter winner didn't even pick up the game until she was in middle school. Fast forward four years, and Tayler's turned into a key player for the Lady Hawks.
"She will run through a wall if that's what I ask her to do," said Head Coach Kevin Craig. "She's a leader- she's a natural leader. What she does have is toughness, and she's very coachable. She just does the things that you have to do."
"I'm not the kind of person to be loud and in your face," said Tayler. I do stuff hoping they'll realize I'm doing it so they'll do it lead by example kind of thing."
As much as Tayler's been a leader on the court- she's also a leader in the classroom, boasting a 3.7 unweighted GPA taking a course load full of AP classes.
"Part of Coach Craig's rules are school first then basketball," said Tayler. "Since basketball's a big part of my life, I make sure to keep up on my school."
"I don't know how she does it," laughed Coach Craig. "She has a great time management value about her- about what needs to be done- what's important and what needs to go on the back burner."
What's important- and for Tayler, remembering this magical senior year tops that list.
"Walking in my freshman year my dream in basketball was district champions, and now we're state champions!" she said. "I never thought this would ever happen. I dreamed of it, it was a huge dream, and I'm in my dream right now- I hope I never wake up."
Tayler said she's still waiting for her acceptance letter to her dream school- the University of Central Florida, where she wants to major in Biochemistry, and minor in Sports Medicine.