Champions of Character: Taylor Cummings - News, Sports and Weather

Champions of Character: Taylor Cummings

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When it comes to trick shots at MSU-Northern there might not be anyone better than Skylights Junior Guard Taylor Cummings. She's the MSU-Northern "P-I-G" Champion. It's a game she always plays with the Lights wrestling head coach Tyson Thivierge.

"He's never beaten me at 'PIG', says Cummings sarcastically. "Ever."

Okay, so the title comes from a contest between two people. But come game time she flips the switch, setting the tone for the #1 defense in the country.

"We do lead the nation in points per game allowed, said Skylights head coach Chris Mouat. "And I think Taylor's a lot of that reason. She is kind of the engine and she does a lot of full court work that a lot of other kids aren't capable of."

Off the court is where Taylor shows why she's a champion of character. She is an advocate for giving back to her hometown community of Belt, Montana.

"My Junior year in high school I started a play for the cure tournament through our business club we had," says Cummings. "It was a community service project. It raises money for the Susan G Komen foundation on breast cancer awareness."

The tournament has raised well over $30,000 through six years. Taylor tries to make it back every year in order to help out.

"Taylor was instrumental, one of the co-founders of that tournament," says Mouat. "I know it's generated a lot of money and it's something that people look forward to every year now and still goes."

Taylor is really big on giving back to Belt and she's heavily involved on campus at MSU-Northern. She's a student ambassador and she's a 4.0 GPA student. Essentially, she's the type of kid that any parent would be proud of.

Even if one of them isn't around anymore.

"He was my first coach. My first teacher. He pretty much taught me all the things about basketball that I still go back to," Taylor says of her Dad, Craig Cummings.

In August of 2011 Taylor's dad was out for a jog in Bozeman when he suffered a heart attack.

"We all got in the car and we drove to Bozeman," Taylor recalled about the day she found out about the heart attack. "When we got there he was out of surgery but they couldn't try to wake him up till the next day. So it was just kind of a waiting game. And when they tried to wake him up and he didn't wake up."

After more tests were done Taylor's family found out that Craig was brain dead. They made the difficult decision to take him off life-support.

"That moment when we found out he wasn't going to wake up. That was kind of the hardest part of them all. Because that's when you lose the hope," Taylor said.

Because of what she has been through, Coach Mouat wasn't sure if Taylor was going to return to the team.

"I just wanted her to do what was best for her and what was best for her family," Said Mouat. "And if that meant stepping away for a semester or for even a year she'd have our full support."

But Taylor didn't leave and she didn't give up. She returned to the team and earned the job as the starting point guard.

She did it for her dad.

"He was the first person to believe in me. Like I could play college basketball," said Taylor. "He said it's going to be hard. You're going to have to work harder thane everyone around you. But if it's something you want to do that you can do it. I just wanted to keep doing it to prove that he was right. That I could do it. That he was right for believing in me. I just couldn't give it up. You just can't give it up. It's kind of like holding on to something that keeps you still together. He's still here with basketball."

Craig isn't the only one who remains by her side. Her hometown and her teammates continue to support her too. They all came together at her high school when the Huskies dedicated their Hall of Fame in her father's memory to honor his contributions during his 15 year tenure working for the school.

"You hear a lot of his players say how great he was," said Taylor's high school coach Jeff Graham. "It was kind of a cool honor when the administration, some people around town though we'd name it after him just because of how much he gave to our community."

"He explained to me, you don't want to leave this world behind without leaving something that other people have benefited from, without helping others," Taylor said about the Hall of Fame. "You want to leave something behind for them. And so when they did that, this was like part of his legacy. And so I thought that was really cool."

Anyone who knew Craig will never count the years that he lived, but instead look at how he made the years count.

What makes Taylor a Champion of Character is that she continues to give back....building her own legacy on top of the foundation that her father left behind.