In the 18 years since the formation of the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, none of the inductees have been from the Detroit Public School League – until now.
Renaissance High head coach Garrard Taylor will enter the MHSSCA Hall of Fame as the first inductee from the PSL. The induction dinner will take place Friday, Feb. 3 at the Causeway Bay Hotel in Lansing at 7 p.m.
“As we get close to the date, I’m starting to get more excited about it,’’ said Taylor, whose 17-year tenure as the Lady Phoenix coach has resulted in a 388-105 overall record with 12 Michigan High School Athletics Association district championships and one state regional title. “This is probably the best honor I’ve ever received,” Taylor said. “When you coach, it’s all about giving back. So it’s nice to be recognized as the first PSL coach to go in. That’s representing DPS, Renaissance High and the city of Detroit.”
Taylor’s teams have ruled the PSL with appearances in 14 consecutive league championship games and 12 titles, including the last seven in a row. During his tenure, the Lady Phoenix has lost a total of only eight league games.
A graduate of Kettering High who played college football at Wichita State and earned his master’s degree in Administration from Wayne State, Taylor credits the success of Renaissance’s softball program to its exposure beyond league play.
“When I started coaching, I wanted to be competitive and I wanted to go outside the city and compete all over the state,’’ he said. “I think we’ve done that pretty well. Our girls have been given an opportunity to see there’s more than just Detroit. Different environments help prepare them not just as players but as a good people who become productive citizens.”
Taylor, who teaches physical education at Pasteur Elementary, says he’s most proud that a majority of his players go on to college.
“A lot of our girls have more than one choice depending on what they want to do,’’ he said. “We’ve always emphasized education as the No. 1 goal of the program, and our players get college scholarships for academics as well as athletics. We have doctors, lawyers and engineers who played at Renaissance. A couple of girls are working on PhDs. It’s been very rewarding to see the results of the life-long skills we teach in our program.”
Taylor has been married 28 years and has two children. He anticipates having friends, family, school administrators and coaches on hand Saturday when he goes into the Hall of Fame along with New Lothrop’s James Lahmann and Grant’s Mark Walters.
“I owe this honor to a lot of coaches who helped me coming up,’’ Taylor said. “The mentoring I got from PSL coaches put me in the right direction and allowed me to be in this position. It’s about giving back.”