Feb. 26, 2014

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team hosts Ohio State in its regular season home finale Thursday night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes will honor and thank someone who has meant so much to the program over the last five years: Theairra Taylor.

“It will be an emotional game, saying good-bye to Theairra,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. “Hopefully, we do not have to officially say good-bye for a long time yet. She deserves great recognition for what she has done for our program and the example she is. We want to send her out on a good note.”

The contest serves as the perfect time to support Iowa’s fifth-year senior who has exemplified what it means to don the black and gold.

“Theairra has been an example of everything Iowa women’s basketball stands for,” said sophomore guard Kathryn Reynolds. “She has inspired our team every day with her perseverance, work ethic, and love of basketball.

“Carver has not seen a more dedicated athlete than Theairra.”

Taylor, a native of St. Paul, Minn., suffered her third ACL injury in a 20-month span during preseason workouts in 2010, and missed a total of 53 games with ACL injuries from 2009 through 2011.

“I had a few low points,” said Taylor. “One day I’m up and at it, and the next day I thought maybe I shouldn’t be doing this. But the fans and my teammates gave me encouragement and that helped a lot.”

Entering Thursday night’s contest Taylor has started 70 career games and played in 103. She has started every game since the start of last season, and played in every game since the outset of the 2011-12 campaign. Last year, she was named was named Iowa’s Most Improved Player.

“It has been a tough challenge, but when you love something and you’re around it you want to continue to do it at all costs,” said Taylor. “Being able to play collegiate basketball is something I’ve worked for my entire life.”

Taylor, a 2013-14 team co-captain, has scored in double figures in 11 of the last 13 games, while scoring nine points twice. In league play, she ranks 24th in scoring (12.8), ninth in steals (1.6), 12th in assists (2.9) and 13th in field goal percentage (.489).

Taylor is thankful for the support of her family, friends, teammates, coaches, and fans.

“It makes me feel really special,” said Taylor. “I told myself I wouldn’t get emotional on Senior Night, but I was just going through a few tweets, and I already found myself getting emotional. It means a lot. I am extremely thankful to get that type of support from our fans.”

In reality, they are the thankful ones.

“Theairra has meant so much to our program,” said junior Melissa Dixon. “She has put in so much hard work and has been through so much. She continues to fight all the time and is a role model for all of us to look up to.”

“She is one of my best friends,” said junior Samantha Logic. “It’s awesome playing with her and you know she is one of those kids who always does what is best for the team. She is the heart of our team.”

Tip-off for Thursday’s contest is set for 6 p.m. (CT). It will be televised nationally on BTN (BTN2GO). Tickets can be purchased online at hawkeyesports.com, over the phone at 1-800 IA-HAWKS, and at the UI Athletics Ticket Office in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Join us in thanking Taylor by including #thanksTheairra in social media posts, and follow the Hawkeyes on twitter (@IowaWBB) and Facebook (facebook.com/iowawomenshoops).

Thank you, Theairra Taylor.