Lakewood Ranch Herald

Out-of-Door Academy mourns loss of former athlete

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Students and faculty members at Out-of-Door Academy grieved Monday morning after learning the news that a former star athlete had died early Sunday after being hit by a car near the University of Miami campus.

Taylor William Emmons, 19, a 2009 graduate of Out-of-Door Academy in Lakewood Ranch and a sophomore at UM, was struck by a Toyota SUV at 1 a.m., Coral Gables Police say.

“We as a team are talking to one another and supporting each other as best we can. We plan to honor Taylor’s memory in some way through the baseball team and school,” said head baseball Coach Mike Verrill in an e-mail Monday when describing the former team co-captain. “It is of course a very sad day for all of us. I will always remember Taylor and give him a place in my heart. He is one of those really great kids that I suppose I got too close to because the pain of his passing is just unbearable to me. I and the team will really miss him but will never forget him.”

Police say Emmons died after he was struck by a Four Runner driven by a 39-year-old Miami woman. The crash is under investigation.

David Mahler, head of school at Out-of-Door Academy, met with faculty members Monday morning.

“Taylor was an exceptional young man in every way. He was an outstanding student,” Mahler said. “He was a leader on this campus. He was loved by everybody. He was a young man of impeccable character. Our entire school community is devastated by this tragic news.

“All of our thoughts and prayers go out to the Emmons family.”

Emmons, whose nickname was “Temmons,” was an officer in the National Honor Society, homecoming king, captain of the boys golf team and co-captain of the baseball team. He also was nominated by classmates for having the Most School Spirit.

“I will always remember Taylor for his unbelievable smile and good humor,” Verrill said. “He could light up a room or an entire ballfield with that cocky smile of his. I enjoyed every day of practice and games with him because of how he approached life. Life was fun for Taylor, never a chore.”

Emmons was well known as the pitcher on the baseball team.

“My fondest memory of Taylor was how he battled through 10 innings as our pitcher in the district finals in the ‘08 season, his junior year. He defined what a competitor is for our young team and Taylor never gave up and demanded that he stay in the game,” Verrill said. “Sarasota Christian was our opponent that day and they themselves will never forget that performance as well.”

In the school’s 2009 yearbook, pictures of Emmons reveal a teenager with a confident smile surrounded by friends.

“You guys are the reason I have made it to where I am today, and I am extremely thankful that I was lucky enough to be blessed with such an incredible group of people in my life,” wrote Emmons in his yearbook in a message to his family members during his senior year. “Thank you for everything.”

At Emmons’ family home in Lakewood Ranch, family members declined to comment.

Outside the front door, a message asked people to remove any Yankee shirts, coats or hats before entering the residence in honor of Emmons, a fan of the Boston Red Sox.

“There are no words one can write which fully encapsulate the impact Taylor has had on his friends and family,” Taylor’s brother, Mike Emmons, told the Miami Herald on Sunday.

Emmons was majoring in entrepreneurship in UM’s business school.

-- Marc R. Masferrer, metro editor, Beth Burger, staff writer, and the Miami Herald contributed to this report.

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