Putting family first, Taylor resigns as head football coach
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Former head football coach Shawn Taylor’s current social studies classroom sits just two doors down and across the hallway from his former Algebra II class, where he met his girlfriend in 1998. Fast forward 19 years, and those two mathletes are celebrating their 10-year wedding anniversary in January, and have been together ever since Shawn offered to help her with math.
“She was a cheerleader, I was a football player,” Taylor said. “I guess it’s like a movie, but you don’t feel like that when you’re in it.”
There are some people that really embody life mottoes, and when it comes to “Once a Knight, Always a Knight,” Taylor fits that description perfectly.
Taylor joined the Robinson clan as a student and offensive guard in 1996 and graduated in 2000 before heading to college at Hillsborough Community College and then the University of Tampa. During college, he traveled back to his alma mater as an assistant coach. After graduation, he taught P.E. at a middle school, while still assisting the Robinson football team, before he was hired as full-time head coach in 2013.
For the past 20 years, Taylor has bled both Robinson and football, but is stepping down from his head coaching position to focus on what’s most important: family.
Taylor is the dad of two girls, 7 year old Ava and 3 year old Amelia, but with the constant rush of football season, hasn’t been able to enjoy quality family time.
“It’s weird (leaving the Robinson football team) because a lot of me is Robinson, Robinson football. It’s like a piece of me that (will no longer) be there but I’m also excited because I never get to pick my daughter up from school,” Taylor said.
It’s a piece of him that has made a tremendous legacy at Robinson. Taylor has spent countless hours a day improving the football program, but he has put similar focus on his players’ academics. Out of the 37 varsity players on the 2017 team, 27 had a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Robinson had one of the top five football GPAs in the county.
“I try to tell them that football won’t last long,” Taylor said. “You play and it’s over, but education is forever. Grades are important. Out of the 17 years I’ve been a coach, I’ve seen two players that pay the mortgages with football.”
Taylor’s theory of building an all-around man and not just an all-around player has helped change the mindsets of his former players and affect how they act both on and off the field.
“I wasn’t the best student and never had the best attitude. At certain points of high school I felt like the coaches hated me, but the one coach who tried to keep me on the team and change how I acted was Taylor,” Vincent Fuggeta (’18) said. “From freshman Vincent getting kicked off the team to sophomore Vincent being brought back on by coach Taylor and then junior year Vincent who went without getting in trouble a single time, Taylor got the character out of me. I went from a little demon to a good kid. I would text him about something before anybody else. I would always go to coach Taylor first.”
Even though Taylor has been a part of around 200 Robinson football games, as a player or a coach, academics have retained a major part of his attention. And although he will be leaving the field, he has every intention of maintaining his position in the classroom.
“If it weren’t for him (Taylor), I wouldn’t be where I am today. He put pressure on me as a student first and an athlete second,” said Malik Tyson (’16), redshirt freshman and quarterback at Florida International University. “He was there for me through thick and thin, whenever I needed to talk he was there or at least a phone call away. We are definitely still in touch, someone like that doesn’t just disappear from your life.”
Since his teaching contract is tied to his coaching position, Taylor could be transferred to another school, if the new coach needs his teaching position.
But no matter what happens, Robinson will always be Taylor’s school, and Jack Peters Field will always be his stadium.
“I won’t forget the first day I was at Robinson and had started coaching,” offensive coordinator Craig Everhart said. “He (Taylor) was showing me around and I instantly knew that he was Robinson through and through.”
“Robinson through and through” perhaps is the best way to describe him. And although he may be sitting in the bleachers this coming year instead of coaching, Taylor will always be remembered as a legend in the world of Robinson football.
Once a Knight, Always a Knight.
Once a part of the Robinson football program, Always a part of the Robinson football program.