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Female athlete of the year: Taylor Banish, Conant

  • Taylor Banish is hoisted on her dad Tony's shoulders after the Conant girls' basketball team won the 2018 Division III championship. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant teammates swarm Taylor Banish after some big saves to beat ConVal in soccer in fall of 2017. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish sets a new personal record of 9’ in the pole vault at the Division III Championships in May. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Taylor Banish at the Division III basketball championship against Hopkinton. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish at the Division III basketball championship against Hopkinton. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish at the Division III basketball championship against Hopkinton. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish at the Division III basketball championship against Hopkinton. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish pole vaults at the 2017 Division III track and field championships. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish pole vaults at the 2017 Division III track and field championships. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish pole vaults at the 2017 Division III track and field championships. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish pole vaults at the 2017 Division III track and field championships. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish throws the javelin at the 2017 Division III track and field championships. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish makes a save against ConVal in fall of 2017. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Taylor Banish makes a save against ConVal in fall of 2017. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, July 05, 2018 10:30AM

There she was, eight, nine, ten feet high, suspended. It’s rarified air, but that’s where Taylor Banish lives, when she’s making diving saves as a goalie or flying high over the bar in pole vault. On this March afternoon, though, she had a view of the SNHU basketball court at hoop-level. The rims were bare, netless, trimmed of their trappings in the Orioles’ revelatory rituals. Banish had some help to reach those heights, both from the Conant basketball teammates she led to the state championship, and from her father, Tony, there every step of the way.

“I think that was the best feeling I’ve ever had,” Banish said, reflecting back on her accomplished high school career on a recent summer morning.

Banish started out a champion, as a member of the 2015 Conant girls’ championship team, but that was as a freshman role player, not the senior captain she’d grow into.

“I didn’t really picture that I would be here, where I was freshman year, especially because I was so scrawny,” Banish said.

Banish got stronger, mentally and physically, and while she never topped 5’2” (save for an announcer’s mistake at the basketball Final Four that declared her 5’4”, much to her delight), it wasn’t her size that made her an athletic force. She was a inexhaustable dynamo on the court, a level-headed brick wall in net, and a fearless flying machine in pole vault.

“She’s so tough and she has the heart of a lion,” said Brian Troy, who coached her in basketball over the past two years as Conant went to back-to-back championship games. “She really inspires her teammates... She’d do anything for her teammates.”

As a twin to sister Jordan, a college soccer-bound sports star herself, competition was in Taylor’s blood from day one.

“When we were younger, we’d compete a lot -- we’d fight over air, over everything,” Banish said. But as they grew, they grew together, and became anchors on each end of the field for Conant’s soccer team, with Jordan at forward and Taylor goalkeeper.

Banish found the most individual success in pole vault. As a freshman, she’d clear seven feet, but she put in the work, training at Patriot Pole Vault in Westborough, Massachusetts, and improved steadily. By her junior year, she was over eight feet, and runner-up in Division III, and by her senior year, she’d win the DIII title at nine feet, just short of a school record.

She was also an extraordinary javelin thrower, picking up the sport late in her career but still topping 100 feet with her throws and qualifying for this year’s New England Championships.

The next move for Banish is following in her father’s footsteps, as she’s joined the Air Force and will begin training as an aircraft mechanic.

“I think she’s perfect for [the Air Force],” Troy said. “She has the work ethic, she has the attitude, she's going to shine whatever she does. It’s tough for a kid that age to grow and have that natural leadership quality, but she has it, and I think it's going to carry her for the rest of her life.”

The Air Force is a natural for Banish, who aims high, flies, fights and wins. And wherever her life takes her from here, she can look back at her four years as a Conant student-athlete as a success and a solid foundation.

“I’ve definitely grown up a lot and I think that I’ve learned a lot of lessons in sports that have helped me through school,” Banish said.