Taylor Cummings started running marathons a few years ago and has now run the Boston Marathon twice. PHOTO COURTESY OF TAYLOR CUMMINGS

Back in the game

Taylor Cummings’ legacy and lifetime of basketball

Lone Peak High School Big Horns Varsity Girls Basketball Coach Taylor Cummings reflects on her life and realizes how much basketball has shaped her. From nearly the time she was old enough to walk, the game has always been there.

She watched her father guide players from a young age in the small ranching community of Belt, Montana – famous for a stellar basketball program. Then her dad became her coach.

Empowered and independent, her father taught her to be strong, both on and off the court.

“He was always supportive but in a very realistic way, he was going to give it to you straight, but support you in everything that you did,” she said, noting that she appreciated his honesty.

He passed away when she was playing basketball at Montana State University – Northern. Her teammates were there for her – a sisterhood; a family helping to bolster her through the pain.

“You spend so much time and go through so much together. They are your support system. I went through a lot in college. They were there for me. You get really close. You go through a lot of things – outside and inside basketball,” she said.

The NAIA Division 1 Team made the Sweet 16 her junior year and the Elite 8 her senior year.

After graduating with a drafting and civil engineering technology degree, she could not hang-up the game. So, Cummings became a graduate assistant coach at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. There, she earned her master’s degree in strategic leadership and landed at Sheridan College in Wyoming as the assistant coach. Then, life led her back to Bozeman – the company she interned for in college offered her a job.

“I chose financial stability over continuing to coach college basketball. So, I moved back to Montana and have been working as a project engineer,” she said.

Mutual friendships and a love for the game led to an introduction to Loren Bough when he was the Lady Big Horns head coach. She volunteered with the program last year.

When Bough had his mountain biking accident in August, she was asked if she wanted to step up.

“He just physically could not coach, so they offered me the position to step in and help. I was planning to help for that year in general but was not planning for Loren to be down for the count,” she said.

A huge part of her decision to accept the position was the girls themselves. She learned last year that they were coachable, supportive and kind to each other.

Knowing that, she knew “this is a group of girls I would love to coach.”

When she coached at the college level egos were often at play and it was sometimes difficult to motivate players.

“These girls, it was so refreshing as a coach, they want to get better and work hard. They are just such a great group of girls,” she said.

Her uncle tells her that coaching basketball is her therapy, and she sees that she is continuing a family legacy started by her father.

“I would say most of my strongest relationships – friends, family, and mentors – have come from the sport. I wanted to do something where I could create the same opportunities for younger players that I had – helping them find their way,” she said.

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