Danielle Taylor was going to be like most students.
She was going to go to college — probably at Oklahoma — and attend football games on Saturday, where she would watch All-Americans and star athletes compete. The 5-foot-2 rower who is “a good couple inches shorter than the rest of my team” never figured she would be athletic, good or big enough to be a collegiate student athlete herself.
Then Taylor was introduced to the sport of rowing. Now, two years and one ACL tear after she began rowing, the Edmond Santa Fe graduate will become a Division I athlete for the University of Central Florida.
“I've always been into sports, but I'm not good at basketball or soccer,” Taylor said. “But I need a high-intensity sport. I tried playing tennis and I actually gained weight. It just wasn't enough exercise.”
With Taylor's late start, she sought out universities with her local coaches. The second-largest American university came on her radar when a rowing friend began looking and being looked at by schools.
“It wasn't really her place,” Taylor said about her friend's outlook on UCF.
But Taylor liked all she heard about the school and the coaches. She took her first visit to UCF the weekend before spring break this year.
“It felt like home to me,” she said.
Along with her parents, Taylor will begin the nearly 19-hour trip on Saturday to her new home in Orlando, Fla. As a non-varsity cross country runner, an attempt at a Division I scholarship was low on the radar through most of Taylor's high school years.
Now, she'll compete at a collegiate-level for the Knights, but promises she'll still try to watch Oklahoma football games on Saturdays, too.