Taylor Shahan ’20 was living a dream. He was playing his favorite position in his favorite sport for his favorite school – centerfield for the Baylor baseball team. The Red Raiders had won state championships his sophomore and junior years with Shahan driving in the winning run in the title game in 2019. His senior season was going to be the greatest ever, so Shahan thought.
The 2020 season began just like 2019 had ended. Shahan had two hits, scored twice, stole four bases, and made a great catch in centerfield in the first game. And the last game. Before the Raiders were able to put their spikes on again, the season was over – canceled due to COVID-19. The dream was over.
“They told us it would be two weeks when they first announced suspending the season, but we all kind of thought that would be it for us,” Shahan remembers sadly. An old adage in baseball talks about “going with the pitch.” In other words, you take what you’re given and do your best with it. Devastated by the lost season, Shahan decided to “go with the pitch” and found another way of contributing to his team and his school.
This is what Baylor does for its students. Boys become men, girls become women, and all of us who love and support them become members of the Baylor family.
For years at Baylor, players on some of the best baseball teams in the state had no place at the field to dress for the game or store their equipment. “It was always a bit of a joke with us that we didn’t have a locker room,” smiles Shahan. “I knew I had the resources, so I decided to do something about it.
Those resources included Shahan’s grandfather, Bill Carney, a master craftsman and director of the Chattanooga Woodworking Academy, his own childhood and teenage experiences in the woodshop with his grandfather, and an engineering class at Baylor, taught by Dr. Mary Loveless.
After a few weekend sessions at the academy, Shahan and Carney drew up plans, met with Baylor coaches and maintenance personnel, and the work to create the baseball locker room – just behind the home team dugout – began. Shahan’s grandmother, Marty Carney, even got involved, and before long, the room included bright red lockers and beautifully stained and engraved benches for each player and coach, 26 in all.
“We had five or six design plans and chose this one,” Shahan said proudly during a recent visit to the locker room he never got to use. “I think it turned out well. Even though we didn’t have a season, this room built during that season will be here for a long time.” Like a state championship banner.
“Taylor took a negative and, with hard work and some help, made a positive; he showed dedication to his teammates and love for Baylor,” Carney wrote of his grandson in a letter to Headmaster Scott Wilson ’75. “This is what Baylor does for its students. Boys become men, girls become women, and all of us who love and support them become members of the Baylor family.”