NEWBURY — Four years ago, Newbury’s Taylor Johnson didn’t even know how to skate. Today, she is a defenseman for the Austin Prep girls hockey team, playing as a freshman.
“Most girls start at the age of 5, and she missed all that,” said Cougars coach Stephanie Wood. “That speaks a lot for her character that she has been able to progress as far as she has. She is very driven to succeed.”
In fact, Wood started skating at 11 after being told by her softball coach that she should look into hockey. She hit the Graf Rink, working with a figure skater to learn the basics, then went to the Micro Ice Training Center in Andover with the goal of getting on the Triton Pee-Wee hockey team in the 2009 season.
“People said, ‘Oh, I don’t think she’s ready,’” says Johnson. “And then I said, ‘I am going to prove them wrong.’”
Taylor’s grandfather, Paul Johnson, has always told her that practice makes perfect, and she took that to heart enough to make the unisex squad on the first try.
“I was pretty excited and proud of myself that I pushed myself that hard and made the team,” Johnson says of making the Pee-Wee team so quickly. She played for a year, then headed for the U12 Islanders Hockey Club where she would meet Wood.
“When I first met her, she was very, very new to hockey,” Wood said of her first impressions of Johnson. “So it was essentially kind of building from the ground up as far as hockey ability and skill. With her, though, she picked it up so fast, she is such a hard worker, a driven person that she has been able to progress through steps that it has taken other girls years to. Now she’s made her way to my girls varsity team here at Austin Prep and is getting regular ice time.”