Taylor times two
It’s not a sports marriage you often see, one where the skill sets have virtually no overlap whatsoever.
Yet the golf and soccer double is a combination that Michigan City freshman Taylor Skibinski has been doing since she was 5.
“I’ve seen freshman golfers introduced to the new rigors of high school and it’s difficult to balance those, going to school, practicing soccer, practicing golf, all at the same time,” Wolves coach Drew White said. “Not a lot of freshmen are that good at juggling it like she’s done.”
For Skibinski, a newly-crowned sectional champion, it’s simply something she’s always done and, at least at this point, plans to continue to do.
“So many times,” Skibinski said of how often she’s been asked about doing both sports. “I get the golf from my dad (John, who played at Rogers) and brother (former Wolves standout Aaron), but I’ve always wondered, where did the soccer come from? I’m good at both. I don’t want to give up either sport.”
While the day is coming when Skibinski will make a choice, based on the greater potential to play in college, she’s just fine with the hustling and time commitment that the anything-but-routine routine brings.
“I think she’s handled it really well,” White said. “I don’t ever want to be someone who douses the enthusiasm of a kid. For me, it’s Wolves over a single team.”
Not that it hasn’t come with some nervousness, given the physical nature of soccer.
“It’s made for some anxious nights when I knew she was out on the soccer field,” White said. “I keep my phone a little closer hoping it doesn’t ring. Knock wood, it hasn’t happened yet.”
A varsity midfielder for the Wolves, Skibinski is thankful she’s never suffered a serious injury in soccer.
“It’s a tough sport,” she said.
Splitting time without short-changing one of the sports requires twice the commitment. On days when she doesn’t have a match and has practice for both, Skibinski will go to soccer first. White doesn’t fret, knowing the talented 14-year old will be out on the range or practice green working on her golf game after dinner. Only once has she tried to compete in both in the same day, and it’s not something she cares to do again.
“Last year, I was looking at the schedule, debating if I could it,” Skibinski said. “I go to golf because it’s less people. I did (both) once and I didn’t like it. I wasn’t focused. I told my (soccer) coach, I don’t think I’m going to do that again.”
A low-40s nine-hole scorer, Skibinski came to the City golf team with as strong a set of credentials as any player White’s ever had. If White didn’t already know what he had, it was reinforced on the first hole of her first match when he had his first “Skibi moment.”
“She found herself under a tree,” he said. “I’m looking at it, man, that’s tough, OK, let’s see what she does. She punched out and put her approach three feet from pin. I’m like, this is going to be fun. That’s stuff can’t teach. Any other girl I’ve ever had, you’re looking at seven or eight and she puts up four, like ho hum. She’s been playing golf longer than anybody we’ve had come into the program. She’s been out on a course the better part of eight years coming in as a freshman.”
Not that it still doesn’t have its learning moments.
“She at times this year has still played like a freshman and that’s OK,” White said. “There have been times when she’s made questionable decisions that hope by the time she’s a senior, she’ll make the other way. She has such a bright future. She’s just getting started.”
Along with the physical ability is a chill demeanor that enables Skibinski to roll with the inevitable ups and downs of a round of golf.
“I don’t really get pressure,” she said. “It’s just a game I’ve been playing since I was little. I don’t really get nervous. (If you hit a bad shot,) it’s not the end of the world.”
Given all the chauffeuring John Skibinski’s done over the years, what’s it going to be like for him when Taylor eventually gets her driver’s license?
“It’s always been my dad,” she said. “Even in the summer, leagues for soccer, he’s been taking me everywhere. I feel like he’s going to be sad when he doesn’t have to drive me around but I’m sure he’ll still come see me.”