Decade-long friends, Shelby Taylor and Carlee Widmer will be close together for at least four more years.
The two Apollo seniors had a joint signing ceremony on Thursday, both announcing they will continue their athletic careers at Kentucky Wesleyan College — Taylor for soccer and Widmer for volleyball.
During their final seasons, both girls set career school records in their respective sports. Taylor set a new scoring record with 96 goals, and she tied for the most ever assists with 48. Widmer set a volleyball record with 1,613 assists as a three-year starter for varsity.
Taylor didn’t even know she had the record until head coach Mason Head announced it to the crowd.
“I knew I had all those goals, but he didn’t tell me I had the school record,” Taylor said. “I was kind of mad (before) at myself because I was thinking about what I could have done to do better. Knowing that know, it’s like a perfect ending.”
She deflected much of her personal success to her team, though, saying their bond and support helped her improve.
“Most of my success was because of how close we were, and the coaching staff here was amazing,” she said. “My skills have definitely grown from freshman year to senior year.”
Still, Head said Taylor made an impact right away and was a big part of the offense for the E-Gals. She scored 25 goals in each of her first two seasons, adding 23 in each of her final two years.
“She brought reliability on the field,” Head said. “She was a large part of our attack. Soccer is very much a team game, more so than other sports. She accounted for 140+ points in her four years. That’s pretty amazing. Very few people in the state have had similar numbers.”
Moving up to the collegiate level, Taylor knows she’ll have to adjust to a different style of play. Head said she won’t have to worry about a quicker pace, and instead will just have to focus on the physical toughness.
“Soccer is soccer, it just gets faster,” Head said. “She won’t have adjustments to make for the speed of the game. The physicality is something she’ll have to adjust to. She plays quickly. She stood out in high school for that reason.”
Taylor is hoping she can continue to shine as she moves on, and she knows she’ll have plenty of competition.
“They have a big freshman class coming, so I’m definitely going to try to stand out,” she said. “I really feel like I can if I stick to it and put my heart into it.”
Widmer will also look to stand out after spending four years with an E-Gals team that was one of the best in the region during that stretch.
“Considering all four of my years we were one of the best teams in the region, that was something special,” she said. “Sophomore year I was an all-around setter and we went to state. Breaking the assists record at Apollo is pretty cool, too.”
In the 2016 season, the E-Gals rolled through the 3rd Region without a loss, falling in the state tournament to eventual champion Sacred Heart. In 2018 — for the first time ever — they didn’t lose a single set to a region opponent until falling in the 9th District championship and then again in the region title game.
Head coach MaryAnne Howard said she was able to count on Widmer to keep the team focused during tough matches.
“The experience as a three-year starter that Carlee brought to this team really helped us to be successful this season,” Howard said. “Carlee is also a very composed player, which helped us to fight through adversity during the season.”
Widmer was a key player in each of her final three seasons, and she knew the coaches were always looking to her for leadership.
“My coaches all depended on me, so they put a lot of pressure on me,” she said. “I just looked out for my team, so my team’s success was more important than my own success.”
Howard said she thinks Widmer will only get better as she joins the squad at Kentucky Wesleyan.
“Her composure and high volleyball IQ will help her to be successful at the college level as well,” she said. “I think that the speed of the college game will help Carlee to rise to new levels as a player.”
Widmer said need to improve on her communication and a few other aspects of the game, but she looks forward to the challenge.
“I’ll probably have to work my way into a spot,” she said. “It’s going to be hard, but I’m not going to let that phase me.”