Falmouth girls organize basketball tourney to benefit teammate
FALMOUTH — A girls basketball team is proving teamwork doesn't have to stop when you leave the court.
The Maine Swish is an off-season basketball team for high school girls. Its head coach, Cathy Evers, and most of the team hail from Falmouth, but one of the teammates, Kaylee Taylor, 15, is from Westbrook.
So was Kaylee's father, Kenny Taylor, who was the team's assistant coach and was always around when his daughter played basketball, Evers said.
But last spring, Kenny Taylor used several knives to kill his wife Belinda in their apartment before killing himself. Kaylee and her 13-year-old sister discovered their parents' bodies when they arrived home after school.
Since then, the Maine Swish girls have struggled to come to terms with the tragedy and have hurt for their teammate and friend. The Westbrook community held fundraisers to help the girls, who have been adopted by their 25-year-old half-sister, Jenny York.
Wanting to do something special for Kaylee Taylor and her sister, the Maine Swish players decided to put on a basketball tournament for boys and girls to raise money for the family: the Taylor Tip-Off.
Evers said she let the girls do most of the work themselves, only acting as an adviser.
"We talked to different people to get advice and ideas on what works and what doesn't," Jenna Serunian, 15, said.
"And we thought it would be easier for people if we had a Web site," said Laney Evers, also 15.
Using a template, the girls created a Web site, taylortipoff.org, and professional graphic artist Catherine Breer donated the logo design. Cathy Evers said they contacted Mark Leclerc of MBR.org and the organization agreed to donate a weekend for the event, asking referees to donate their time.
"They have the contacts; we have the heart," Laney Evers said.
In addition to the knowledge they are helping someone they care about, the girls have plunged into their work to help them deal with what happened, as well.
"It was definitely hard at the beginning," Laney Evers said. "We were sickened, stunned. We couldn't believe it had happened."
"They were normal," Morgan Larrabbee, 15, said of Kenny and Belinda Taylor. "They were so nice, they seemed completely normal; a nice family."
Cathy Evers said it made them all question how "you trust anyone."
Even after what happened, the girls said they want to recall the good things about their assistant coach.
"We want to remember our coach for all the good times we had," Serunian said. "I never saw him mad."
And they want to help their friend and teammate, who just began playing basketball with them again last weekend.
Maine Swish families are donating a part or all of their weekend to volunteer. Each team will each play two games at Falmouth Middle School or Falmouth High School, either on Saturday or Sunday, Nov. 7 or 8, but the real winners will be those teams that raise the most money. The winning team will receive Taylor Tip-Off sweatshirts. And T-shirts will be for sale at the event. All proceeds will go to the Belinda Taylor Trust Fund to help support the Taylor girls.
"Go online and donate, come to the tournament and make a donation at the door, or submit a team," Serunian said.
Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.