Eight years ago, Jeff Taylor and Jerome Love were happily coaching a rec league girls basketball team. Then one of their players had a dream, and that led to a journey that has helped countless young women.
“We started coaching because we enjoyed working with kids, and then we had one player say that she wanted to play at the next level,” remembered Taylor, who is now the Michigan Storm director. “We started an AAU team, and we quickly learned that you need more than one good player.
“That player ended up getting a scholarship, but we had to do a lot of learning along the way. We took a lot of lumps over those first two or three years, but I really think we have evolved into one of the best programs in the Midwest.”
The Storm has grown over the years, fielding eight total teams last summer. The program has also experienced tremendous success placing athletes at colleges, with seven players making the jump in 2016.
“I’ve lost track of the numbers over the years,” Taylor said. “We send kids to every level, from the Big Ten down to Division III, and we send them to schools all across the country. In our 2018 Class, we have 10 players, and all 10 will play in college. Nine of the 10 already have scholarship offers.”
Taylor hopes to see the Storm strengthen in the coming years, but he isn’t interested in winning trophies at the expense of the program’s values.
“We want to continue to provide high quality basketball opportunities for young women, and of course we are always looking to get better,” Taylor explained. “However, we are going to keep our core values and standards. We are going to continue to use basketball as a vehicle to teach these girls life lessons. That’s why we only take well-rounded young ladies into our program.
“If I thought those core values were going to change, I would get out of the business.”
The Michigan Storm will take a huge step forward in 2017 when the program joins the elite All Star Girls Report Summer League.
“I think just about everyone knows the reputation of the All Star Girls Report,” Taylor said. “They do a great job with all of their events in terms of the organization, the level of competition, and the number of college coaches who attend their tournaments.
“Joining the League is going to give us a great opportunity to grow and improve, and we are going to be playing in a lot of new events for us, starting with the Deep South Classic.”