Last month, at the Sparta Celtic Festival, I had the pleasure of meeting Taylor Kroll. She’s a 17-year-old college student and Highland Games athlete. She’s also an incredibly nice person and a great sport because she agreed to answer some questions for us.
I’m happy to see that more women are getting involved in the Highland Games, which have traditionally been a male sport. And I’m especially pleased to see younger women training and competing, but at seventeen, you’re definitely the youngest I’ve come across. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved in the sport?
Becoming involved with this sport is a bit of weird story. I never knew what the highland games were until three years ago when I started. I actually meet one of the guys I throw with at a middle school track meet I was volunteering. He started talking to my mom and she told him I need help with my shot put and discus. So, the next weekend I went to his practice field and did not see them throwing shot put or discus. Him and two other guys were throwing caber and I had no idea what was going on. Originally, I no intention of throwing highland games, but after a few practices, I started to practicing highland events with them and began to love the sport.
You’re regularly flinging around heavy weights and….well…trees. What drew you to that?
Honestly, when I first started at 15, what drew me to it the most was my overall ranking. After my first highland games I was ranked 25th and it completely blew my mind. That sense of accomplishment kept me practicing and aspiring to become the best thrower I could be. As I continued into the following years, the atmosphere during competition, the other throwers, and becoming a better highland athlete made me love the Highland games even more.
Do you have a favorite event? If so, which one and why?
My favorite event is probably weight for distance- which is weird because if you would have asked me what my least favorite event was last year, i would have said weight for distance. It is my favorite because it requires so much technique and while so many people have different ways to throw it, it comes back to the same basic technique.
Do you feel any additional pressure as a woman competing in what’s traditionally considered a men’s sport?
I do not really feel any pressure. It is honestly more frustrating to see games that do not offer women’s divisions, in particular, masters women. These women are amazing athletes and deserve to be able to compete in the right division.
Do you participate in any other sports?
I am on the Ashland University Track and Field team
We’ve featured one Highland athlete who writes poetry. Do you have any other hobbies?
Besides doing homework and throwing my hobbies are reading and biking.
Overall, most Highland athletes seem quite supportive of one another. Has that been your experience? If so, what’s the best advice you’ve received?
Highland athletes are some of my favorite people because of this reason. No matter what, everyone is willing to help. I could be neck and neck with another athlete and she would still point out if I needed to correct something in my form.
Some of the best advice I have received from highland athletes does not even usually pertain to highland games. Being as young as I was when I started (and as young as I am now), they have really helped mold me into the person I am today and I am so thankful for everything they have taught me.
Do you have plans for future competitions?
My plans for future competitions is to do more. I usually stick around Michigan and Ohio, but I want to expand my horizons.
Any other big plans coming up?
No big plans coming up. Focusing on college right now.
Do you have any favorite inspirational (or otherwise) quote(s) you’d like to share?
“Dreams don’t work unless you do.” I like this quote because it helps remind me it will not happen over night, I have to work for what I want. Another quote I really like is, “Never set a goal based on the measure of single success. Always progress from the average, that is what you are trying to improve.” Comparing myself to others is something I really struggle with, but this quote helps me focus on the importance of bettering myself , while not making a reference to things that are just going to make me more frustrated. It is okay to have big goals, but everyone has to start at square one.
Thanks so much for joining us, Taylor! All of us here at the Michigan Highlanders are wishing the best of luck with your studies, track and field events, and, of course, the Highland Games!