DENVER (CBS4)– With his mom Jennifer on the sidelines, and his dad Mike watching from the bench, Jake Taylor helped his Legacy Lacrosse club to a 14-3 win over Warriors Elite last Monday morning.
Taylor was one of more than 400 lacrosse players in Denver over the July 4th holiday participating in the World Series of Youth Lacrosse.
Legacy won the championship in 2016, and while they failed to repeat this year, it’s hard to count any game as a loss for Taylor.
Jake was born with club feet and hip dysplasia. As a toddler doctors had to break his feet and used three different sets of casts to move his feet outward. It was a process that lasted a total of 15 months.
The process itself was painful enough for Mike and Jennifer to watch, but the news that Jake would never play sports, was even more hurtful.
“I think any parent hearing their child is hurt, or possibly has something going in, it was devastating, just that alone,” said Mike. “Then when they said not playing sports, it took me back. I was devastated.”
“It was definitely heartbreaking,” adds Jennifer.
“I remember watching him play with other children,” said Mike. “You see kids the same age and they’re running around and he’s dragging around on the ground chasing after them. It didn’t bother him, but as a parent, it was tough to watch.”
So the Taylor’s made a decision: They’d let Jake decide whether or not to play sports, and would let him decide whether or not to let his club foot and hip dysplasia would hold him back.
They also made another decision: They wouldn’t tell Jake about his disability.
“I don’t really remember a lot,” Jake recalls. “Every time I play, or play a sport or run outside my feet and hip would start to hurt. One day I was like, ‘Mom, why are my feet hurting?’ And my mom and dad sat down with me and explained it.”
Jake didn’t let it phase him, and instead, started looking for advantages.
“Turning a corner on the lacrosse field is easier,” Jake says with a wry smile.
And watching him run around the fields at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, you’d never be able to tell he was defying doctors orders.
“I think it’s cool they’ve let me keep going. I think it’s cool that I can have club feet and still be playing. I just want to show that I could do anything and nothing can stop me.”
Lacrosse has taken Jake all over the country. His trip to Denver was one of many stops on the Taylor family summer tour. And he’s hoping cross-country trips to play in tournaments aren’t the final destination on his journey.
“Of course everyone who picks up a stick wants to be a division one athlete,” says Jake. “Hopefully I can use lacrosse to go to college, and then college can lead me to whatever I want to do next.”