A different ballgame

et's face it, two-sport status is rare in sports today. Bo Jackson did it, Deion Sanders is doing it, and Michael Jordan is, well, trying to do it.

But those are the male examples. The female two-sport star, while maybe not as rare, is certainly not as publicized.

As a starting midfielder on the Arizona women's soccer team, Shannon Taylor may not totally fall into the two-sport category, but she's close.

A junior now, she was a walk-on for the basketball team two years ago. According to Taylor, the difference is comparable to, well, playing with your hands and playing with your feet.

"It was a lot different because when we played basketball I was a walk-on, so I didn't play as much as I do in soccer," Taylor said. "In soccer I start, so it's a lot different in that regard. There's also different demands. I think we took more hours in the day to practice in basketball but in soccer it's more intense. It's in the heat of the day, in the middle of the day, in the hot sun."

As is often the case with the gifted athlete, adapting to another sport is usually natural. Not many athletes can play soccer for over a dozen years then take a break to take up another sport. But ultimately, the goal is to get playing time, and basketball just wasn't providing an adequate amount.

"She was in the position of a walk-on which is a difficult position because the playing time for her was very limited," said head women's basketball coach Joan Bonvicini. "But she had a great attitude. She was the kind of kid that was very, very popular on the team, and she did whatever we asked. That's a special kind of person, and that's what she is."

So, it was back to soccer, where she now enjoys life as a starter. At first, the college level proved much more demanding, but she has learned to adapt.

"It's a huge difference (between club and collegiate soccer)," Taylor said. "You come in and you just don't expect the demands that are given. There are days when you just feel like you've given all you can and then you're asked to give more, so it can't compare to anything."

Learning to adapt meant changing her style of play to the physical nature of Division I.

"Actually, coming in I would say that I was really passive," Taylor said. "I think that I've become more aggressive, and that's what they've asked us to do. They've asked us to step up and play as agressive as possible. So that's where I think I'm playing now, pretty aggressive or as aggressive as I can play. And I'm always trying to get more. So I'd say, yeah, I've gotten a lot more aggressive."

Being one of only five juniors on the team, she assumed a leadership position if for no other reason than being older than the majority of the players on the team.

"I guess that we (the upperclassmen) do help the freshmen out a lot because we know what's it's like like school, we know they're trying to adjust to school," Taylor said. "We know all that, so we're in a little bit of an easier position. We all try to help them out."

"She had played basketball here for a year and that gives her a real feel about what Division I athletics is about," said head women's soccer coach Lisa Fraser. "And having played for Joan, I think she's learned a lot from doing that. So I think she has a lot to offer us. She's also, physically, a real presence on the field, so that definitely adds to her leadership."

Though the team isn't enjoying the success that the basketball team has enjoyed, Taylor has no regrets, and remains excited for the future.

"I can't say that I enjoy one more than the other but I wouldn't change the way I did things," Taylor said. "I like where I'm at now. I like the position I'm in now."

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