FAIRBORN — Wright State senior guard Mackenzie Taylor won’t let much back her down, both figuratively and literally.
Currently, Taylor is just 71 points shy of reaching the 1000 point milestone for her career at WSU, but being the selfless athlete she is that isn’t her primary focus at the moment.
“It’s been a topic of discussion, but it’s honestly something I don’t really want to worry about right now,” Taylor said.
“This is a tough program to make it through. Mackenzie has left her mark on this program individually as well as being a valuable part of the most successful class in Wright State history,” WSU coach Katrina Merriweather said. “She is a great student and has grown into a leader over her four years. She will be missed dearly.”
This opportunity nearly didn’t have the chance to happen. Throughout her career, Taylor has dealt with some lingering back pain brought on by two bones that are fused to a bone in her lower back called the sacrum, an issue that a small percentage of the population has.
This can be compounded as the season progresses, and she manages it with painkilling injections. It was an injury that occurred when she was in high school at Richmond in Indiana that she says helped give her that enhanced toughness.
“Tearing my ACL going into my junior year, I had to learn how to be tough by myself and get through that,” Taylor said. “A lot of schools had backed away, and I had the dream of playing Division I basketball. I knew without persevering that dream wouldn’t come true.”
The unrelenting support of Merriweather has also helped her overcome adversity.
“We had several conversations when I was having issues with my back. She always just told me, ‘Whatever it is you need, let me know even if that’s to never play again. You have the rest of your life to live,’” Taylor said. “That support on and off the court is not something you find everywhere.”
“She has had some physical setbacks but she doesn’t allow anything to stop her,” Merriweather said. “She is one of the toughest players I have ever coached.”
On the court, Taylor has made a name for herself as a sharp shooting three-point threat. She is fifth in WSU history in shots made from behind the arc (178) and third overall in percentage (.346). Reps are vital in keeping that skill intact she added.
“I get out earlier to shoot and occasionally after practice without Trina (Merriweather) yelling at me for doing too much,” Taylor said jokingly. “When you shoot that shot you know that you’ve made it before, practiced it and deserve to make it.”
“After being recognized as the top three-point shooter in our league, she is proving that she isn’t one-dimensional by attacking the basket,” Merriweather said. “She is forcing the opponent to respect her mid-range and driving game as well. She is key in our transition defense and is a great communicator on the floor.”
Reflecting on her time as a Raider, Taylor has no doubt that she made the right decision to attend WSU.
“Everyone asks me if I like Wright State, and I always say, ‘It’s been the perfect fit for me,’” Taylor said. “It’s close enough to home, we’ve been pretty good, and I’m in such a good environment from top to bottom starting with the athletic department.”
Playing alongside WSU guard Emily Vogelpohl and 1000-point club member for four years has benefited Taylor as a competitor.
“We don’t really care how it is. We just want to win,” Taylor said. “Having a competitive person next to you every day pushes you to be better also.”
With her ability to lead the team, Taylor is like a second coach on the floor. As an accountancy major, she feels that experience could be useful in the future.
“It’s helped me be disciplined working with a variety of people. Being on a team, everyone comes from a different background,” she said.
Taylor was clear that her goal is to earn a Horizon League tournament ring this season. Being picked third in the preseason does not appear to be a worry for someone as thick-skinned as her.
“You try not to let it bother you. I think we were probably picked where we deserve based off who we lost,” Taylor said. “That’s no indicative of how we’ll finish.”