Saving shots on the field, taking them on the court

Freshman goalkeeper Taylor Hextrum defends a shot against Stevenson University March 15. Photo by Diano Pachote

Midway through the second half of a Feb. 24 lacrosse game, Taylor Hextrum, the only goalkeeper listed on the women’s lacrosse roster, left her net, grabbed her things and hustled off Chapman’s Wilson Field. Hextrum, a freshman, had to leave to compete in the women’s basketball conference championship game at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on the same day.

She stepped outside the field gate to meet her mother and brother. The Hextrums jogged down the steps under Wilson Field, hopped in the Honda Pilot they’d driven down from Santa Rosa, California, and took off 30 miles north on Route 57 toward Claremont, where Hextrum arrived an hour before tipoff.

“I had my entire lacrosse uniform on, changing as quickly as possible, and in a span of 20 minutes, I had jumped from one sport to the next,” Hextrum said. “It was hectic, but fun.”

The frenetic day culminated with the satisfaction of raising the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) trophy.

“Winning the championship was surreal because of what a chaotic game it was and how long it took us to achieve that win,” Hextrum said. “We always joked about how this season seemed like it was taking years to finish, and that game went by in stressful and exciting moments.”

Had Hextrum stayed in net, where she’s been an anchor for a struggling women’s lacrosse team (2-7 overall, 1-4 in-conference), she would have missed the basketball team’s first SCIAC title – a double-overtime 70-61 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

At the start of the year, Hextrum wasn’t even sure she’d play one sport, let alone two, because she wanted to focus on her education.

Hextrum, an integrated educational studies major, hopes to become a kindergarten teacher. The interest comes from her mom, who owns a preschool in her Northern California hometown.

“My mom always says to me, ‘Maybe you will take over the preschool and we can make it a family business,’” said Hextrum, who is the oldest of four children.

Hextrum said she’s inspired by her family’s drive.

My family accomplishes more in a week than any family can in an entire year,” Hextrum said. “My mom always says this when so much is going on in our household, from running around to gyms, fields, and swimming pools.”

As the only goalie on the lacrosse team, Hextrum said she feels needed – whereas during the basketball season, she was largely relegated to the bench.

“I really wanted her to join the lacrosse team because I thought she could be a main contributor, and we really needed a goalie,” said women’s lacrosse head coach Dan Kirkpatrick, who was a goalie at Chapman as an undergraduate.

Hextrum enjoys the responsibility and says she likes lacrosse and basketball equally.

“In lacrosse, it’s nice to be told, ‘Wow you just saved our butts,” Hextrum said.

Hextrum’s experience would’ve been completely different if she didn’t play sports at Chapman, she said – she wouldn’t have met some of her closest friends.

“If I had not played lacrosse, it would have been almost depressing,” Hextrum said. “I have always had a practice to go to and a team to be a part of.”