Prep Sports | NewsTribune

2022-23 NewsTribune Female Athlete of the Year

L-P’s Taylor Martyn used talent, intangibles to excel in three sports

La Salle-Peru's Taylor Martyn is the 2023 NewsTribune female athlete of the year on Monday, June 26, 2023 at La Salle-Peru Township High School.

There was never a doubt that Taylor Martyn was going to play three sports throughout her career at La Salle-Peru.

She grew up playing a variety of sports, she was a multisport athlete at Oglesby Washington, and she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her brother, Tyler, who was a multisport standout at L-P who Taylor called “a really good role model.”

“I fell in love with sports from the get-go,” Taylor Martyn said. “I always liked to fill my schedule to keep me out of trouble and keep me fit, so I always knew [I’d play three sports at L-P].”

Martyn was a three-year varsity player in volleyball, came up to the varsity basketball team during her sophomore year and played her entire high school career at the varsity level in softball.

“She did her job. She was poised. She’s who you want to have in every situation.”

—  Adam Spencer, L-P girls basketball coach

She also was involved in a variety of clubs and activities, including student council, LINK crew, student board and Future Business Leaders of America, and finished top 10 in her graduating class.

“I think it provides a lot of structure to a high schooler’s daily life,” Martyn said. “You know you’re going to wake up, go to school, go to practice and after practice come home and you have to do your schoolwork. I think it provided a really good set day for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard at times, but it was definitely for the better.”

Martyn juggled it all and performed at a high level.

As a senior, she was NewsTribune All-Area and All-Interstate 8 Conference in volleyball, was NewsTribune All-Area honorable mention in basketball despite missing a chunk of the season with a thumb injury and NewsTribune All-Area in softball.

For all she accomplished this school year, Martyn is the 2022-23 NewsTribune Female Athlete of the Year.

“What she’s done here is kind of unbelievable to do playing three sports, some of them at the same time,” L-P softball coach Randy Huebbe said. “To do all the activities and to be that good at sports and still be in the top five or six of her class is amazing.”

In the fall, Martyn helped the volleyball team to a 23-13 record, including coach Mark Haberkorn’s 1,000th career victory.

As the Cavaliers’ libero, she led the team in digs (336) and aces (45) for the second year in a row while also topping the team in points (365).

“She has a lot of athletic ability to play three varsity sports and excel at all three on the varsity level,” Haberkorn said. “She’s a very coachable player. Everything we asked her to work on, she improved. This year, she was a better passer and serve receiver and she really improved her ability to read hitters. Each year, she got better and better.

“I believe by playing other sports, it made her a better player. For example, when you’re an outfielder, you have to read the batter to get a jump on the ball. In volleyball, you have to see the setter and read the hitter to get in the proper spot to dig the ball. I think there’s correlation between sports that helped her become better.”

In basketball, Martyn was a strong outside shooter for the Cavs, knocking down 39% from behind the arc before suffering a broken pinky finger that required surgery to insert a plate and six screws, which ended her season prematurely and delayed the start of her softball season.

“I just worked really hard in therapy and just tried my best to get back, and thankfully, I only missed three or four games,” Martyn said. “Usually when you think of physical therapy, you think you’re going to be running and doing that type of thing, but when it’s your finger, all you can really do is bend it and get that mobility back.”

The injury didn’t have any negative impact on her softball season.

Martyn led the area in steals (38), ranked second in runs (42) and RBIs (36) and was third in home runs (5), fifth in batting average (.474) and seventh in doubles (10).

She led the Cavaliers to a 29-6 record and was voted to the Illinois Coaches Association Class 3A All-State first team.

“She came in and only had three or four practices, and her first week I think she had seven or eight hits in 10 or 12 at-bats,” Huebbe said. “She never missed a beat, and it just continued all year.”

As strong as Martyn’s physical tools were, she was arguably more valuable for the intangibles she brought with coaches using phrases such as “coach on the field,” “calming influence” and “great leader and even better teammate.”

“You didn’t have to tell her what to do all the time,” Haberkorn said. “She was able to read the scouting report and execute it. She was very respectful to everyone. She was always there to keep everybody positive on the court and in practice.”

Huebbe said Martyn had a positive influence on underclassmen called up to varsity.

“She’d take them in and outside of softball become friends with them, and that meant a lot to those girls,” Huebbe said. “That let them play with ease. Her taking them off to the side and telling them what I expect and everything, I think that rubbed off on the other girls. It helps. She’s a big reason the program is where it is.”

L-P girls basketball coach Adam Spencer said Martyn was “self-aware” and understood and executed her role. After she was injured, he said she “was still invested in all of her teammates,” continuing to study scouting reports to help the team.

“You could trust her,” Spencer said. “She did her job. She was poised. She’s who you want to have in every situation. She’s an adult. She knows what the heck is going on.

“She’s a rock. There’s not a lot of up and downs. That’s just how Taylor is.”

Martyn will continue her softball career at St. Ambrose.

“She’ll excel,” Huebbe said. “When Taylor puts her mind to something, she does it. She just has that. It’s just that intangible as a coach you don’t even know what to call it, I just say she’s got that. Whatever situation I put her in, she excelled.”