Ty Taylor

Tivy coach Ty Taylor encourages his players during a practice on Aug. 6, 2018. Taylor was the Antlers’ defensive line coach for the last six seasons.

Coach David Jones gathered his Tivy football players inside the field house on May 24, informing them that one of his assistants, defensive line coach Ty Taylor, had some news he needed to share with them.

Normally, Taylor is comfortable with public speaking. In fact, he especially loves giving speeches to his football players. He dreaded having to deliver this address.

“I always look forward to having a chance to talk in front of you all,” he told his players. “But this is a really difficult thing to talk to you all about.”

Taylor then informed his players that he was no longer going to be their coach, that he was leaving to be the defensive line coach at Texarkana Pleasant Grove, the state runner-up in Class 4A in 2018. After coaching at Tivy during the next six years, he was moving on to the next chapter in his career. Defensive backs coach Justin Mendoza will assume Taylor’s responsibilities, helping Chris Russ coach Tivy’s defensive line.

Taylor didn’t finish his talk without shedding a few tears. By the end, some of his players were crying as well.

“I know it was sort of a gut punch, especially being this late in the year,” Taylor said. “I think Mendoza will do a great job. The kids are in great hands with him. He does a great job of building relationships with kids and he’s a great football coach who is going to do a great job on the defensive line. I feel good leaving knowing that he’s going to be the one taking over.”

Taylor insisted that joining Pleasant Grove’s staff was the right move for him and and his family. For starters, Texarkana is only a three-hour drive from his wife, Chelsea Taylor’s parents, giving his young children (Gracie and Hutch Taylor) more opportunities to spend quality time with their grand parents.

Personally, Taylor, who is only 33 years old, dreams of someday becoming a defensive coordinator and then a head coach. He believes that coaching at Pleasant Grove, a perennial state title contender, will help him achieve that aspiration.

“It’s a great opportunity for me career-wise and a great move for my family because it puts us closer to family,” Taylor said. “It’s going to allow me to have different experiences that I need in order to advance. … I just felt like this was the move we needed to make, but I’m definitely open to coming back to Tivy one day.”

He will certainly be missed at Tivy. The life of a young high-school football coach is often nomadic, but Taylor made Kerrville his home these last six years. He connected with Kerrville’s community (parents often praised his character during interviews with the Kerrville Daily Times). He loved working with Tivy’s coaching staff, often referring to them as his other family. He helped lead Tivy’s off-season strength and conditioning program, and often assisted defensive coordinator Jeremy Hickman in making halftime adjustments.

“He knew exactly what I wanted and what needed to happen on the defensive line,” Tivy Hickman said. “I never had to worry about it. He and Russ were a great team. Coach Taylor was a great technician at teaching it — he got kids to play hard and was demanding. He did not let kids take days off; he wasn’t afraid to motivate kids and he was a huge part of our defense. … He was my right-hand man.

He was a good friend. He was loyal, a great role model for me. I looked up to him in several things. He was just a great aspect all-around our program. He was a great man of character, someone who does it the right way every day.

But perhaps his greatest attribute is his ability to connect with players. He arrived at the field house every day at 6 a.m. to workout, inspiring his players to follow suit. He cracked jokes during film sessions, helping his players learn from the mistakes they made in the past games.

He and Russ enlivened Tivy’s sidelines during games, often showing more excitment than their own kids whenever they made big plays.

Former defensive end Brady Jenschke once asked Taylor to write him a reference letter for his application to Texas A&M. Taylor wrote about the game when his all-state defensive end once powered through an injury during a game in his junior year to help his team. Jenschke still remains thankful for the gesture.

“I don’t know if you can really describe (Coach Taylor’s impact) in words,” Jenschke said. “He’s one of those guys who is always there when you need him. … He thinks about his players all the time. They are always on his mind. He remembers everything about his players.

“When he goes off to the new school, it doesn’t really matter where he goes. He is always going to remember his Tivy kids and how special they are.”

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