Taylor family unites at triple jump pit
Matt Taylor knows he can jump further. He knows another personal best is waiting for him to seize.
His younger brother, Ryan, has the same thoughts.
The two brothers repeatedly race down the runway at the jumping pit at Laurentian University track. They hurl themselves into the air, each time trying to beat their last distance.
There are few smiles. There is rarely any laughter. The brothers are serious about getting the job done.
They train relentlessly under the watchful and discriminating eyes of their father, Track North jumping coach and former national junior team member, Jim.
The Taylor boys have become synonymous with triple jumping and long jumping in Greater Sudbury. Jim began the legacy in the 1980s as he earned seven OFSAA medals and was a member of the 1984 Canadian national junior team while living in southern Ontario. Jim has been coaching for 22 years, including nine in the Nickel City with Track North.
Matt has become a top contender in the local and regional ranks and Ryan burst onto the scene this year by setting a new record in the triple jump at the Rainbow District School Board elementary meet.
Jim has played influential roles in helping transform many northern Ontario jumpers into elite athletes, including University of Western Ontario jumper Caroline Ehrhardt.
The proud papa is now playing a similar role with his two sons. And what makes Jim beam the most when it comes to his sons’ progressions into the sport? Personal best jumps? Going extra hard in practice? No. The desire both his boys have shown for the sport.
“I had always hoped they would follow in my footsteps and they did it themselves,” he said. “I never pushed them to do it. They made the commitment on their own. They came to practices I coached and loved what they saw and wanted to do it.
“To me, it is special and it is the part that is most gratifying for me.”
My brother and I have one of Canada’s best coaches sitting across from us at the dinner table.
Matt, 18, got serious about jumping after he made it to OFSAA in Grade 9 for triple jump and finished second last. He didn’t like the result. It stuck with him and changed him. It was hard to accept and Matt promised himself to never leave anything to doubt and always be better.
Matt admitted there are days and moments when he and his dad clash over ideas. Heck, Matt will even get into it with his brother. But no matter what happens, the three of them know it is all about getting better performances.
“My brother and I have one of Canada’s best coaches sitting across from us at the dinner table,” Matt said. “He is the biggest influence. We want to do what he did.
“We’ve all got into it with each other, but at the end of the day we are family and we are just pushing each other to do our best.”
There was no way Ryan, 14, was not going to be a jumper. He essentially grew up beside a jumping pit. It was in his blood and two people he looked up to immensely his whole life — dad and big brother — were heavily involved in jumping.
It is the life for Ryan and his family.
“I like the shirts we have that say Eat, Sleep, Track and Field. It explains our life,” Ryan said. “We love this sport. It means a lot to all of us to be doing it together. It’s cool.”
Growing up, Matt and Ryan played sports such as soccer, volleyball and basketball. In elementary school, they both participated in the annual track and field day. It was there where they both planted the roots for their passion to grow for jumping.
When his sons said they wanted to become serious about jumping and commit to doing whatever it took to go further and further, Jim was ready.
It has been a learning experience, but Jim knows how to balance the role of father and coach.
“It can be tough coaching your sons,” Jim said with a big chuckle. “At the track, I wear my coaching hat and they call me Jim. Sometimes we butt heads and sometimes we don’t. Matt has shown me a lot of drive. Ryan is just realizing he has a future in the sport. Both are faithful to the program. It’s neat to share this experience with them.”
Both Taylor brothers will be at Lasalle Secondary School this fall, Matt in Grade 12 and Ryan in Grade 9. They hope to make it to OFSAA and win medals.
“We’ve gone from serious to super serious,” Matt said.