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Klepper’s Korner w/ The Taylor Family

The Travelling Taylor’s Hockey Family – By Don Klepp

To their surprise, Merv and Julia Taylor have found themselves the lynch pins of a family of four talented hockey playing sons, Ty (20), Trey (17), Tate (15), and Teyce (12).

By Julia’s account, the four sons have accrued a total of 30 seasons to this point, 8 seasons in Atom, 8 seasons in PeeWee, 8 seasons of Bantam, 3 seasons of Midget and 3 seasons of Junior ‘A’. They have played on 45 different hockey teams, and those numbers don’t include the Spring Hockey teams they have played on!

For the Taylors, the past 14 years have been spent figuring out the logistics of getting the boys to where they needed to be. Often the boys needed to be in different cities and different rinks at the same time. They admit that hockey has taken over their lives from time to time. “At one point, that’s all we did,” says Julia.

“Before our kids joined hockey I envisioned our family to be spending lots of quality family time together by hiking, skiing, playing cards and board games,” she says. “The truth is most of that quality time only happened while we were on a family vacation. Our day to day life during the rest of the year never seemed to have enough hours in the day.”

She adds, “I’ve questioned the loss of family time because we were always going to something hockey related. Many times I have thought to myself…this is crazy…should we pull the plug…is it really worth it?”

She concludes, “YES, it has been worth it. We may not have done all the things we had planned but our family has had a whole ton of fun and unforgettable experiences arising from hockey.”

Merv and Julia say that the very best part of their minor hockey experience has been watching their sons grow from their experiences in hockey. Julia explains that “They have learned about team work, competition, work ethic, and compassion and that sometimes life just isn’t fair. When things haven’t gone their way they have learned that their attitude and what they take from the experience will make all the difference as they move forward.”

Of course, hockey is expensive too, especially with four sons involved.  Merv and Julia have gone without certain things in order to keep the boys playing. Some families borrow money to pay the hockey bills, but Julia says, “We chose to never go into debt because of hockey and we’ve done the best with what we’ve had. For example, when spring hockey has come round, we’ve sometimes said we can’t afford any more this year.”

Merv adds that getting away from hockey in the summer has been beneficial. “The boys have been able to participate in other sports, such as tennis, soccer, lacrosse, and golf. I believe that cross sports are very important.”

Both parents are athletic themselves. Merv’s main sports growing up in England were tennis and soccer, while Julia’s primary sport was soccer. They understand the demands placed on athletes and, as Merv says, “We’re pleased to see the drive and the passion and the commitment in our boys. They’ve learned many life lessons through sports.”

So how are the Taylor sons doing?

Teyce, age 12, continues to play hockey. He has talent, but he’s not as committed as his older brothers. “We knew that early on,” says Merv, “when we saw him making snow angels in the corner at practice.”

Tate, born in 2004, is a defenceman who will move up to midget this year. DraftGeek.ca  describes Tate as  a player with “above average skating abilities and puck transporting, … and excellent positioning in all three zones.” In his first year of Bantam, 2017-18, Tate was a member of BC’s top ranked Bantam team, Richmond’s Seafair Islanders.

Trey, who is now 17, is taller and heavier than during his rookie season with the Vipers. Trey was drafted by the USHL’s Tri-City Storm, but he decided to return to the Vipers and he’s excited about the upcoming season. “He says the Vipers have unfinished business,” says his father. Trey’s been training this summer at the Vancouver Hockey School. He has already received scholarship interest from NCAA schools.

Viper fans may be surprised to learn that Trey, who is the epitome of calmness on the ice, can be quite excitable off the ice. “He’s our exuberant child,” says Julia. Big brother Ty is just the opposite, laid back and quiet off the ice, but a fierce competitor between the pipes and an angry defender of his crease area.

Ty turned 20 in July. He enjoyed his studies and the hockey in his first year at the University of New Hampshire, but the transition from junior to college provided a big challenge. He started just seven games for the Wildcats, playing behind third-year goalie, Mike Robinson, though Ty was promised more playing time when he was recruited. Merv says that “Ty knows that if he really wants the starting job, he has to work harder than ever to earn it.”

Ty’s parents are understandably proud of Ty’s accomplishments. Merv says “In a way, he’s already won in hockey. He has a full ride scholarship and he’ll come out with a good degree.” But Ty’s focus is on fulfilling a dream of playing in the NHL with Tampa Bay, who drafted Ty in the 2018 Entry Draft.

Julia says, “We were flabbergasted that Ty got drafted. We always knew that he was talented and competitive, but he was a late bloomer so we were delighted when his 18-year-old season with the Vipers turned into a great scholarship and a draft pick. He’s facing a hard journey, but he’s determined to succeed.”

Whether it’s Ty or one of his brothers, Merv and Julia Taylor are happy as long as their sons are enjoying playing hockey. “As with any activity or type of work career, if there’s no fun involved, it’s time to move on,” says Julia.