Taylor Graham is a man with a plan.
Hes attending college a stones throw from New York City, where he hopes to put his eventual emerging media degree to good use, and hes one of 11 students in his program to earn a full-ride scholarship. After all, if your interests include videography and website design, there are few better places to network than the Big Apple.
Oh, and he plans to play soccer, too.
Graham, a two-time first-team All-Southwestern League selection as a center back, will take his skills from Durango High School to Ithaca College, a Division III program in Ithaca, N.Y., come this fall. The two-year captain for the Demons said he was hoping to find a smaller school where he could make something of his love of multimedia while playing soccer at the same time.
I was attracted to New York because of change of scenery and the New York City scene. ... Once I got to Ithaca, it all clicked the small-town feel with the access to the city was really something that was really perfect for me as far as what I was looking for for college, Graham said.
It didnt hurt matters that, according to Graham, Bombers head coach Andy Byrne was looking for someone to step in and put a stranglehold on the center back position. Graham said the indications he received from the 26-year Ithaca head coach is that the spot is open if he can do what is necessary in the offseason to grab hold of it.
I mean, you never know, you know, but hes kind of hoping for that ... I guess that would be my goal would be to get out there and play four years, Graham said.
One thing Graham said he most wanted to improve heading into the college ranks was simply adjusting to the speed of the game at the next level. DHS head coach Kenny Wood said Grahams athleticism should help him do that just fine.
I think his athleticism and his drive to compete, thats what the college level is about, just pushing yourself to a different level and just seeing what youre made of. Luckily for Taylor, hes been doing that his whole life, Wood said.
It was Grahams desire to be near NYC and continue pursuing something in the media arena that most drove his selection of Ithaca over Denver, Colorado College and Fort Lewis, all of which expressed interest. And the ability to combine a smaller community with the ease of access to New York City helped him land at Ithaca over New York University.
Helping matters was his selection as one of 11 Park Scholars, a full-ride scholarship for majors that fall under the umbrella of communications. The 26 finalists competed for the scholarships, via several interviews over one weekend, and Graham was selected. His 4.11 grade-point average couldnt have hurt his chances at being a finalist, and neither could his standing as senior class president and web editor and developer of El Diablo, DHSs student newspaper.
His parents, Scott and Susan Graham, understandably were thrilled with all of their sons accomplishments.
Its really building on what he got here at Durango High School. ... Its fun to see him come out of the whole Durango scene to some national competition and show well, I think, for Durango, Scott Graham said.
And mom expects him to be just fine living most of a country away from home. After all, hes done just fine so far.
Were just excited, and we know hes going to excel out there and do well, Susan Graham said.