Changing us for the better

Courtesy Florida State Athletics

The FSU softball team has made Taylor Foster part of its family, and she attends games as often as she can.

For the past two years our team has been inspired by a truly life-changing person. Taylor Foster, a 17-year-old Seminole softball fan from North Carolina, has been battling bone cancer for the past four years. Taylor -- who always had dreamed of playing for Florida State -- found out she had been diagnosed with cancer on the same day she made her high school softball team. Last year a family member of Taylor’s got in touch with Coach Alameda, and she has been a part of our family ever since.

Taylor is one of those people who lights up a room, who can make any one smile and laugh. She has changed our team for the better. Although she is fighting a tough battle every day, you would never know it. She carries herself with extreme optimism, hope for the best in life and excitement for better days to come.

She hasn’t let her cancer slow her down, either. Taylor recently coached a young travel softball team, and she continues to inspire other cancer patients to keep fighting their battle.

Courtesy Florida State Athletics

Every other week Florida State has a Taylor Foster practice day, and it wears special T-shirts for the occasion.

Taylor and her family do their best to come out and support our team. Since she’s from North Carolina, FSU is a little far, but she still has managed to visit us multiple times. She and her family are always in attendance when we play ACC games in Georgia and North Carolina. Having someone so special in the dugout cheering us on makes us want to play even harder so we can show Taylor we play for her every day.

When we lose a tough game or she knows the team is struggling, Taylor is the first to text or call us and tell us to get ready for the next game, and there is no one else we’d rather hear it from. Taylor is fighting a battle for her life every day, and we are lucky enough to play softball each and every one of those days, so when Taylor gives us encouragement and tells us to kick it into high gear, we do it.

Taylor is a big part of our family, so we try and brighten her day whenever possible. Each week during meetings we write letters to her, and we even had the opportunity to send her little gifts. Taylor always has said she’s most upset she can’t play softball anymore, so we want her to know she’ll always be part of the team. We also have a Taylor Foster practice day every other week, and on those days we Skype with Taylor while wearing our special Taylor Foster tie-dye T-shirts.

Taylor has been a great influence on what we call “The Gate.” Each day we start our practice at the gate, where we take everything that has gone on that day and leave it outside of the field. Whether one of us has had a bad day or not done well on a test, when we get to the gate we know it’s time to get to work and make our family better.

At the gate we also remember to appreciate our abilities and play for those who can’t, like Taylor. We are living the dream, and if we don’t make the most out of it, then we are taking our abilities for granted. Coach Alameda and Taylor help remind us of that every day.

Without Taylor I don’t think we would be the strongly bonded team we are today. She has taught us to never give up our fight because she never gives up hers. Taylor inspires us to do our best, but she also brings sunshine into our days because win or lose, we are still truly lucky to play this game.