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Character first

Saugus' Taylor Schubert is solid on the court, but it’s off the court where she excels even more

Posted: October 5, 2009 10:33 p.m.
Updated: October 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Saugus High School volleyball player Taylor Schubert excels both on the court and in the classroom.

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For Saugus volleyball player Taylor Schubert, there are simply not enough hours in the day. These days she’s juggling school, sports and volunteer work on the weekends.

And though she’s always had a love for athletics, it was love for her brother Ryan that led her to work for the Santa Clarita Special Olympics, and ultimately develop a skill set that has her poised to leave a stamp on her school and community.

“I’ve always been interested in helping him,” Schubert says of her brother, whom the family describes as “learning delayed.” “So that’s why I started volunteering for Special Olympics. ... I like feeling that I’m helping them, that I’m giving them a chance to play sports.”

She says she began working with Special Olympics coaching volleyball five years ago. As time went on, she picked up basketball and began helping with bowling this year.

Not one to seek attention, Schubert’s activities have thrust her into the limelight lately.

She has been honored with the CIF Champion of Character award, which will be presented to her later this month, and she was featured as a KABC Channel 7 “Cool Kid” on Sept. 17 for her volunteer work and ability to balance time in the classroom and on the court.

But for Schubert, the reward lies with helping her brother and his teammates.

“Just making them happy and bringing them together,” she says. “My brother and his friends all play together, so it is great seeing them together. They have a great time.”

Her time coaching has also helped her become more outgoing, and she says she has learned to interact with different types of people.

Those traits will be important as she takes over as the team captain for the Centurions this season.

“I have to make sure we are playing together, not getting down on ourselves, keeping energetic and playing through each match,” Schubert says.

Last year, she was a first-team All-Foothill League selection and an All-Santa Clarita Valley second-teamer.

She finished the 2008 season with 126 kills, posting nine of them in the team’s 3-1 first-round loss to Serrano of Phelan in the CIF-Southern Section Division I-A playoffs.

Her experience is essential as she steps into a leadership role on a very young Saugus team.

“She runs the day-to-day affairs,” says Centurions head coach Zach Ambrose. “I tell her what I want and it is up to her to make it happen. If we are traveling, have a team meeting, anything of that nature, I totally trust her. ... It lets me focus on just coaching.

“I think she is just a great kid,” Ambrose adds. “She handles all the stresses very well and is able to give all of her endeavors a lot of effort. She is able to balance them all very well.”

That includes school.

Schubert is pushing herself.

Her class load includes Shakespeare, three advanced placement courses and an art class.

Currently, she holds a grade point average of more than 4.20, which has helped garner the attention of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan, she says.

With a knack for mathematics, she says she is leaning toward becoming an engineer.

Meanwhile, her family is left wondering where the time has gone.

“It wasn’t that long ago that she went into high school and she started playing volleyball, then now, wow, she’s a senior,” says her father Jay Schubert, who also coaches for the Special Olympics.

He has seen the growth in his daughter thanks to her work with the organization.

He’s also seen how her investment has impacted Ryan, along with the investment of all the other coaches.

“It’s tremendous,” Jay says. “He’s gotten a lot of his friends that way. ... He talks a lot more when he is there. He gets to go out and share an hour and half with (his teammates) and they don’t have to worry about fitting in because there they are the norm.”

Given Schubert’s and Ryan’s relationship, Jay says his daughter’s decision to help out with the Special Olympics came as no surprise.

“They’ve been close even when they were small,” he says with a laugh. “If you got mad at one of them the other one would yell at you.”

Ryan has since become more interested in the sport of volleyball and has even started attending his sister’s games.

“The last four games I’ve been down on the floor taping,” Jay says. “Every once in a while I can hear him, and I’ll look up and (my wife) Lisa will be smiling and shaking her head over what he was saying. I don’t know if he realizes it but it will probably be the last time he sees her play because I don’t think he’ll see her play much when she’s in college.”

But given their bond, odds are that they will find a way to make it happen.

And given how much Schubert has grown since she began volunteering, her advice for others who are thinking about working with the Special Olympics is simple.

“I’d say do it, go for it,” she says. “It’s so much fun and you feel so rewarded helping them.”

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