Peacocke’s path to her career milestone
As she looked into the stands, junior guard Taylor Peacocke knew she was close. Though she was on the basketball court, it was her softball team sending her a message.
With a little under eight minutes left in the second quarter in the Vikings’ game against the Western Oregon University Wolves, her softball teammates were proudly brandishing signs that marked “The Countdown to 1,000.”
Just 24 hours prior, she had no idea how close she was.
Teammate Kayla Bernsen was the first to bring to her attention that all she needed was 11 points to become the 24th woman in Western’s history to score 1,000 career points.
The Vikings were trying their best to feed her the rock early.
“They wanted it probably more than I did,” Peacocke said.
Early in the second quarter, she finally got her chance.
Peacocke got the ball and dribbled to the left baseline before pulling up and taking aim from 16 feet out.
For Peacocke, the journey to this moment says even more than the achievement.
On the court, Peacocke is fiery and passionate. But in the classroom, she exhibits a more reserved and quiet personality — a self-proclaimed introvert.
But past her black Patagonia hoodie lies a fiery competitiveness forged from growing up the middle child with two brothers. Whether it was sports or video games, Peacocke said there was always competition among her siblings. She said this is a big reason why she has such a strong work ethic.
“Growing up, I wasn’t always outstandingly talented, but I worked hard,” Peacocke said. “That was something I always took pride in because that was something I could control.”
Through it all, family has been a major part of her life. She has a tattoo of an anchor on her right forearm to symbolize her mother.
Another tattoo on her left forearm is the Greek word “agape,” which she says means unconditional love.
She got this tattoo for her older brother.
When Peacocke was in eighth grade, her brother was sent to a boarding-school style treatment for drug addiction. Peacocke says her brother’s addiction helped shape her studies.
“Losing that older role model was a huge thing for me,” Peacocke said of her brother who has finally gotten clean after being in and out of rehab. Peacocke is considering pursuing a degree that would be able to help her reach out to those who may face the same struggles with drug addiction.
“I want to help kids going through a similar situation. I want to help get them down the right path,” Peacocke said.
When she was 3 years old, her parents enrolled her in a basketball program at the local YMCA as a way to channel some of her excess energy. Besides Peacocke, there was only one other girl in the program.
Peacocke said the girls didn’t let the uneven numbers intimidate them.
“We did all the scoring,” Peacocke said, laughing. “We were both super competitive and were always bossing the boys around.”
She played as many sports as she could including basketball, soccer, gymnastics and baseball.
As she got older, baseball became her favorite sport. She played on her brothers’ Little League teams up until she was 13 years old, eschewing softball so she could play with her brothers. It was here she first met her high school coach, John Augustavo.
Augustavo coached her from ages 10 to 12. As the head coach of basketball at Inglemoor High School, in Kenmore, Washington, he kept an eye on Peacocke’s athletic progress during her middle school years. By the time she reached his team, Augustavo said he already knew what type of player he was getting.
“From the time she got there, she was the leader of the team,” Augustavo said. “If I wanted the team to work harder I would go to Taylor and she would get them to work harder.”
Augustavo said one thing he admired about Peacocke was her work ethic and her drive to do anything to win.
“I hate to lose.” Peacocke laughs. “I hate to lose more than I love to win.”
In high school, Peacocke used that edge to put up 1,152 points, a school record for Inglemoor.
However, softball was still her focus until she broke her wrist during her sophomore year. The injury made batting difficult and Peacocke began to focus more on basketball, joining an Amateur Athletic Union team to complement her high school career.
Peacocke began to receive scholarship offers, from schools like Arizona State University, The College of William and Mary and several other schools. Peacocke, however, did not want to have to choose between sports. After being promised she would be able to play both basketball and softball, she elected to attend Sacramento State University.
However, once she had arrived at school, her coaches had decided they wanted her to focus solely on basketball after all.
Peacocke did not appreciate her coaches waffling on the main reason she had chosen that school. On top of her frustration with her coaches, she began to feel increasingly homesick.
“When I got down there, I felt shell shocked,” Peacocke said. “I realized I didn’t really know anybody and I wanted to be closer to my family. I wanted to be somewhere where they could watch me play and be a part of my career with me.”
So when she came home for winter break after the end of her first semester, she knew that she couldn’t go back to California.
It was a trying time in her life, one she dedicated to a tattoo of her favorite Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11, on her right shoulder. The verse reads: “‘For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
While Peacocke was taking time to reevaluate her life, someone from her past was working to improve her future.
Augustavo began emailing schools on Peacocke’s behalf. After arranging a few visits, Peacocke chose to come to Western, due to its on-court success and proximity to home.
Her journey has been long. At times, it has been extremely difficult. But, through it all, Peacocke has stayed focused and positive.
So, when a timeout was called to celebrate her 1,000th point, what Peacocke, her family, friends and all the fans were really celebrating was the journey that has brought her to this moment.