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June 5, 2004

Running like the wind ...

From: Clinton Sampson Independent, NC - Jun 5, 2004

By: Doug Clark

(June 5, 2004) ROSEBORO/SALEMBURG - Most 14-year-olds are not used to inspiring people. But not every 14-year-old is named Ashley Taylor.
Doug Clark can be reached 592-8137 ext. 39 or email at:

Taylor, who ran track this season for Lakewood High School, won silver medals in the 3200 and the 1600m during regionals this year and is considered one of, if not the, longest distance runner on the team. She ran three and a half miles per meet during the season.

Although she has won many praises and accolades from her coaches (William Deaver and James Lewis) and her teammates this year, she was not able to hear any of them - Taylor is deaf.

Running track without being able to hear could pose many problems for some. But for Taylor, she has overcome that by focusing on her running, while getting hand signals for starts and laps.

"Before the coach fires the gun, he makes sure I am paying attention before he fires it," Ashley says through interpreter Lee Leslie. "He will drop his hand to let me know it went off."

Although she had played basketball at Roseboro/Salemburg Middle School and won a trophy for an art contest, winning silver medals for the Lakewood High track team was a rewarding achievement for the freshman.

"I was very proud," she said. "And I was really excited and happy about getting them."

What made it more special, was Ashley is a newcomer to the sport.

"I was interested in running though P.E.," Ashley said. "Coach Lewis asked me if I was interested in running track. The first few practices were really hard, but as it went on, I improved. I just went out there and tried my best."

"I spotted her endurance right away," admits Lewis. "I knew if she would try it, she would succeed. She already liked to run and she could only get better." For coach Deaver, an avid runner himself, seeing Ashley on the track filled him with inspiration.

"This is my third year coaching track out here at Lakewood and I have been running for about 25 years," he said, "Ashley is about the most inspiring runner I have ever seen. Not only to me, but she is an inspiration to the whole track team. She is the only runner that I have ever seen run two miles and smiles as she is coming around ... She has that inspiration that keeps on going."

When asked if concessions have to be made coaching Ashley because she can not hear, Deaver says flatly, "No, I coach her like everyone else. Mrs. Lee will translate for her and she picks up the role of everything. It is not a problem. She just goes on with it."

"Hey, it has been a pleasure teaching her," said Lewis. "She goes out there and gives her best effort every time. That is all you can ask for. On top of that, she is a great kid - Just a sweetheart."

Deaver agrees, "We need Ashley to run for us the whole time she is in high school ... she keeps me and the team motivated. We love Ashley and we wish her nothing but good luck."

Ashley says she has many plans this summer. She will be practicing to try out for the LHS basketball team and will be getting ready for her sophomore year in track. "I hope to come back next year and get a gold," she said with pride.

When asked of her future plans, Ashley who has two brothers (Aaron, her twin and Richard) and a sister (Jessica), says that she wants to go to college and become a teacher or a computer animator. Will she run track in college? "(shrugs) I dunno, maybe," she said.

Whatever lies ahead for Ashley, she will be ready.

"She is a very intelligent young lady," said Leslie, who has worked with Ashley since RSMS. "She has the best endurance than any other child I know. If she wants something she will work hard at it until she gets it."

Just before we part, Ashley quickly starts signing one more thing to Mrs. Leslie. "She says she wants to make sure she tells you one more thing," says Leslie. "She says: 'I want to thank my coaches for encouraging me and helping me improve.'"

In addition to "inspiration" and "great kid", you can also add "humble."

Doug Clark can be reached 592-8137 ext. 39 or email at:

©The Sampson Independent 2004