LYNNWOOD – Some observers might say he has entered a hornets’ nest, but Dan Taylor couldn’t be happier about his new job.
Taylor, 29, of Bothell has been hired as the head coach of the Meadowdale High School girls basketball team.
“I’ve been a part of the community for the last six or so years, teaching and counseling and coaching,” said Taylor, who will also teach physical education at the school. “I believe it’s a great opportunity.”
Taylor was an assistant boys basketball coach four of the last five years (three at Lynnwood High and one at Juanita in Kirkland) and since 1999 taught physical education at Lynndale Elementary, a Meadowdale feeder school.
He takes over at Meadowdale for Karen Blair, who in May resigned after 11 dominant seasons and two state titles. Blair, who compiled a record of 255-39, attributed her resignation to the behavior of several players’ parents and a lack of administrative support. Last month she took the girls basketball coaching job at Ballard High in Seattle.
More than 100 coaches, parents and players, both former and current, attended a public forum to support Blair following her departure. However, a number of former Meadowdale student-athletes and their parents have said Blair’s style was negative and hurtful.
Under Blair, Meadowdale qualified for 10 consecutive state tournaments but also broke a player-advertisement rule in its 2004-05 team guide that resulted in a two-year probation.
Asked about the controversy surrounding the Mavericks, Taylor said he just looks forward to putting his stamp on the program and continuing its winning tradition.
“Things have happened,” Taylor said, “but at the same time, it’s time to move on. The girls want to play basketball, and that’s what I’m here for.”
Taylor shared his philosophy and goals Thursday night during an introductory meeting with Meadowdale players and parents. He said Friday he doesn’t anticipate problems with team parents, but if they arise he believes the Edmonds School District will sufficiently support him and investigate any problems.
The son of a father who served in the United States Army, Taylor has lived in Korea, Japan and Germany. He played high school basketball in the latter country before coming to Seattle, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Seattle Pacific University.
Although the Meadowdale job is Taylor’s first as a high school head coach, Edmonds School District athletic director Terri McMahan said Taylor is ready.
“The fact that he has been a teacher in the Meadowdale community coupled with his solid basketball skills and connection with Meadowdale families made him a great fit for this position,” McMahan said in a written statement.
Taylor worked alongside Landon Porter, Lynnwood High’s head boys basketball coach, for three years beginning in 2000. Porter called Taylor “a very high-character man, honest and hardworking. … He’s there to build. He’s worried about doing things right for the future.”
After more than seven weeks without a coach, the Meadowdale program has gained stability.
“I’m excited,” said Eryn Jones, a Meadowdale guard who as a freshman averaged 8.8 points per game. “I think we’re just going to put everything in the past, and Dan Taylor seems like he knows what he’s doing.”
Taylor expects to fill out his assistant coach staff soon. He will help run Meadowdale’s summer youth camp next week and plans to hold another camp Aug. 8-12 for girls entering grades 9-12.
“I really like him,” Danica Coronacion said of Taylor. Coronacion, a guard who as a freshman last season played on the junior varsity team, served as a player representative during the interview process.
“He seems really nice,” she said. “I think he’ll be a good coach.”
Meadowdale graduated only one senior, point guard Ashley Fenimore, from a team that went 22-3 last season and dealt Class 4A state champion Garfield its only defeat.
“Meadowdale will still be just as successful on the court,” Taylor said. “The former coach established a great program.”
“My focus is teamwork and sportsmanship,” Taylor added. “The ‘X’s and ‘O’s will come, but most importantly I’m an academic-minded coach.”