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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018 7 months ago

Rollins freshman Taylor Kienle is living her dream

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From Trinity Prep to Rollins, the Winter Park native hopes to overcome injury and make a difference on the lacrosse field for the Tars.
by: Troy Herring Sports Editor

As she walked onto the field at Barker Family Stadium, freshman Taylor Kienle was in the process of accomplishing a dream — playing lacrosse for her hometown Tars.

It was in this moment that Kienle had felt as though most of her life as an athlete had been building up to, and she wasn’t going to take it for granted — especially after being out for most of the early part of the season as she nurtured her re-injured Achilles tendon.

“I’ve been looking forward to playing on this field since I was a little girl, and not being able to play for the first game of the season was extremely hard,” Kienle said. “But then coming back and playing — the first time stepping on the field was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had — that was exciting.”

Kienle suffered a tear in her Achilles tendon at the beginning of her senior year at Trinity Prep, which caused her to miss the entire season. Going into her first year at Rollins, she had gotten back into better shape, before she re-aggravated her Achilles in the spring.

Despite the setback, and although still not at 100%, her comeback and first game as a Tar in the friendly confines of Barker Family Stadium was a whirlwind of emotions, Kienle said.

“When I heard my name being called, I got the chills and had a lot of butterflies in my stomach,” Kienle said. “But then I realized I’ve been playing since I was 3 years old and just realized that I’m just going out and playing the sport on a regular day — nothing new. I was just trying to keep focused and do what I was going to do.”

And stay focused she did. Right off the bat she helped make a real difference — especially relating to draws.

Before making it into the game against Seton Hill, Rollins had gone 0-for-6 on draws, but Kienle was about to change that for the better. She helped turn the tide a bit in the game and won the next six for the Tars — helping them to a victory. Her abilities to win draws left and right has made the attacker a key cog in the Tars’ proverbial wheel, and she has become a specialist in that aspect of the game.

“When I heard my name being called, I got the chills and had a lot of butterflies in my stomach,” Kienle said. “But then I realized I’ve been playing since I was 3 years old and just realized that I’m just going out and playing the sport on a regular day — nothing new. I was just trying to keep focused and do what I was going to do.”

- Taylor Kienle

Through the nine games in which she has been active, Kienle has picked up 14 draw controls and two goals. Both goals came in a 19-2 win over Palm Beach Atlantic.

Her constant dedication and strong work ethic, which have helped Rollins to a 13-3 record and No. 6 national ranking in the polls, has not gone unnoticed, especially by 11-year Rollins assistant coach Tom Kienle — Taylor’s father.

“The hard part is seeing her try to come back from her injury, and I feel like she is getting there,” Tom Kienle said. “She is not back to where she was prior to her injury, and I see some frustration from her on a day-to-day basis. So watching her have the opportunity to go on the field and really make a huge impact in that game — it was decisive what she did — it was really awesome for her. That was a pretty cool moment for me.”

Lacrosse in the Kienle family runs deep and is partially what inspired Taylor to play — though Coach Kienle said he left the option up to his daughter.

Before he became a coach at Rollins, Kienle started both the boys and girls lacrosse teams at Lake Highland, while Taylor’s mother, Rita started the team at Trinity Prep, and Taylor and her sister, Paige, were a part of that initial class. Paige, a senior this year at Trinity Prep, will be joining her sister on the Tars’ women’s lacrosse team next year.

Taylor Kienle made the most of her time on that Saints’ lacrosse team. She became a three-time varsity team captain as a midfielder/attacker. She also was named to the Under Armour All-American Lacrosse Team and was a US All-American. 

Although the honors of the past reflect her talent well, there is still a lot left for the freshman to accomplish.

“I’d like to emphasize that there is something special with this team that separates them from other teams that I’ve been on in the past — the bond that we all have, and the friendship — that is what really makes us so successful,” Taylor Kienle said. “And that was one of the reasons that I decided to come here was because I saw the team chemistry.

“I didn’t expect it to be as strong as it was, honestly, and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” she said. “They’re all my best friends, and I think that’s what makes me enjoy my time here as much as I do.”

Troy Herring is the sports editor at the West Orange Times and Windermere Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Mount Olive (BS '12) and the University of Alabama (MA '16)....

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