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Winter Olympics Close to Home for Men’s Tennis Freshman Taylor

By Andrew Tomsky, NAU Athletic Media Relations

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Kevin Taylor, a freshman starter on the Northern Arizona men’s tennis team, is spending his first year away from his home in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, located just an hour and a half by ferry from Vancouver, the host site for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Though Taylor is enjoying his time in Flagstaff, he is understandably disappointed to be away from home as his native land is in the world spotlight for two weeks as the host of the Olympics. With a family home also in Vancouver, Taylor has spent his entire life in and around the city, and is thrilled to see his country play host to the biggest annual gathering of winter athletes in the world. Taylor talked about the joy of having his childhood home in the global spotlight, the importance of the games to Canada, and the desire for a gold medal in men’s hockey, the national pastime of our neighbors to the North.

How did you feel when you watched the opening ceremonies?
I think I was more disappointed than anything that I wasn’t there. It was really good to see all of the places where I’ve grown up on TV. A bunch of my friends from high school are there and some of my family is at the games as well.

You have tennis matches here, but did you try to go back?
I asked my parents to bring me home, and they said no. A lot of people I know there aren’t even going because the traffic is always really bad in Vancouver to begin with. If I was there, I would probably only go to hockey because it’s very tough to get around.

How important is hockey in Canada?
It’s basically religion for most of us. Even if we don’t have the most total medals, everyone will be happy if we win the gold in hockey. It’s the only medal that really matters to us. If we lose, it will be devastating.

What is the American equivalent of Sydney Crosby in Canada?
He’s the Lebron James of Canada. He’s in every commercial and he has a lot of star power. It’s funny because nobody really has anything good to say about him other than he’s a really good hockey player, but he’s the Lebron of hockey.

How was it to see Canada win its first gold medals as the host country?
It was great, but those medals don’t mean much compared to hockey. It was still really good to see us get some early medals. I was really happy about that, I was yelling for joy.

What is it like watching the games with all the other international players on the tennis team?
David Flodberg (Gothenburg, Sweden) and I talk a lot of trash to each other about hockey, since they won the last gold and we won it before that. The guys from Germany (Patrick Schimmelbauer) and France (Hugo Ramadier) say stuff too, but they really can’t back it up, at least in hockey. Germany has a lot of medals so far, but I don’t think they can keep it up!

Being away from home for the first time, how special is it to get to see your hometown every day on TV?
Its weird to see BC Place (venue for the opening/closing ceremonies) all decked out, because I’ve been there a bunch of times for football (home of the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League) and it looks totally different. To see Vancouver on TV and know that the whole world is looking at it is pretty special. To me, it’s just a place in my town and it’s cool that everyone is making a big deal about it.

On Sunday, Taylor, wearing a Canadian beanie and one of his many Vancouver Canucks jerseys, watched with his teammates as the United States shocked Canada with a 5-3 win in men’s hockey. He was stunned and disappointed at the defeat, as was the rest of his country. He is still optimistic, however, that Canada will rebound from the loss to win gold. The strong play of the Canadian men’s and women’s curling teams is of little consolation to Taylor and his hockey-crazed nation, needing a gold in men’s hockey to consider the Vancouver Olympics a success.

DID YOU KNOW…Student-athletes, coaches and athletic department staff combined to volunteer more than 3,800 hours over the 2008-09 academic year, assisting with events like Red Ribbon Week, Relay for Life, Welcome Back Jacks, St. Mary’s Food Bank, Adopt a Family, Climb to Conquer Cancer. In all, the department participated with more than 20 different organizations and/or events.

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