Running the show: Rusty Taylor is ready to lead Callaway cross country back to the playoffs

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, July 10, 2024

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Callaway Cross Country has a new leader running the show. Rusty Taylor will be taking over the head coaching position as he leads the cross-country team into the future.

The Troup High graduate and former cross country coach at his alma mater is in his second year as a teacher at Callaway High and served as an assistant coach with the team in his first year.

“Cross country is a tough sport,” Taylor said. “It’s not one of those sports where there are just a bunch of people coming out to do it. You have to kind of recruit and train and I was able to recruit a lot of wrestlers and a lot of people that my son knew so I was able to get a good core of people at Troup. I had a pretty large team over there and that is what we want here too.”

It was hard to say goodbye to his beloved Tigers, but the Taylor family has felt right at home as Cavaliers.

Taylor’s youngest son Luke has been a member of the Callaway cross-country team for the last two seasons. Unfortunately, Taylor suffered a devastating leg injury during the spring baseball season and will miss the cross-country season this fall.

The two will not get to share the season as an athlete-coach duo but rather as a true coaching duo with Luke using his experience from the last two seasons to help his father in the coaching department.

“He said he’s gonna still be out there on the team and be there by my side and assist in any way he can,” Taylor said. “Obviously I’m sad that he can’t run, but it will be awesome to have him out there alongside me.”

Before making the transition to Callaway, Taylor served as the Troup cross county and tennis coach. Before that, he spent 14 years coaching parks and rec sports, mainly baseball, basketball and football. 

Coaching has been a part of his life for years and a lot of it stems from wanting to spend time with his two sons. The reason he became the Troup tennis coach was to be with and coach his eldest son Zach.

“When I started coaching I was doing every sport with him [Zach] baseball, basketball and football and then I just stuck with it and then rolled over into Luke and started doing all of his with him and then I was very lucky to be able to go to high school and coach Zach in tennis and cross country,” Taylor said. “Now, at Callaway, I’m able to coach Luke in cross country, so everything has worked out really, really good.”

Despite practice not starting until later in the month, Taylor’s role as cross-country head coach has already begun. He is in the process of designing the schedule with six races on the docket with the potential of a few more to be added.

Taylor is also hot on the recruiting trail. He wants to have enough girls to field a competitive lineup (5) as well as have around 10-12 boys out. The lineup figures to be junior-heavy with a mix of experienced and newcomers alike.

The goal for the 2024 season is simple and clear: qualify for the state meet. The boys and girls painfully and narrowly came up short in the regional meet last season which saw them miss out on the state meet. Taylor has made it no secret that the teams can achieve these goals if they push themselves.

“We always run Monday through Thursday, I try to give them the Friday and the weekend off the rest of their body and try to tell them to run at least one time over that three-day stretch on their own,” Taylor said. “We work hard during those four days, we are pounding it out and doing new and different trails, different kinds of runs. Whether it’s concrete running, woods running or something else. We just do all kinds of different things to get them ready for the real thing because every course we go to is different.”