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On the bench with Taylar Stallings

The women’s track and field team has had a productive indoor season, with much of its success coming from the throwers.

Taylar Stallings, who is in her junior year studying psychology, has played an important role on the team this season and in the previous two seasons.

Throughout the indoor and outdoor seasons, Stallings competes in the shot put, weight throw, hammer throw and discus.

Last season she competed in the Conference USA Championships in all her events, and she has qualified for the shot put and weight throw for the 2006 Big East Indoor Championships on Feb. 18 and 19.

The Oracle’s Kevin Smetana sat down with Stallings to talk about sand, psychology and being short.

O: You’re from Martinez, Ga. Is that a small town?

TS: Yes and no. It’s like a small city inside a really big city, Augusta, Ga. – the other A-Town, the lame A-Town.

O: What made you decide to come to Florida?

TS: To tell you the truth, the palm trees (laughs). We don’t have palm trees in Georgia. I came down on my visit. I saw one palm tree. I lost my mind.

O: So do you go to the beach a lot?

TS: No, I can’t swim (laughs). I can’t swim at all. I’ve only been to the beach like twice since I’ve been here.

O: So you went to high school in Georgia?

TS: Yeah, I was born in Tennessee, but pretty much stuck in Georgia for 15 years of my life.

O: Did you play any sports growing up?

TS: Basketball is my first love, and then I played volleyball and of course track. Since I was five, I wanted to go to the University of Tennessee on a basketball scholarship, but of course that didn’t quite work out. They told me I was too short.

O: How did you get into track and field?

TS: In fifth grade we had Olympic day, and I was racing people and then I got stuck on shot (put) because I knew I was strong and I just wanted to beat everybody else, so that’s how I kind of got into throwing. And I always liked to run, and throwing just kind of came with it.

O: Do you still run at all?

TS: Only when the coaches make us. (Laughs.)

O: What do you like to do in your free time?

TS: I sing, write poetry – whenever I do have free time. I’m usually working, at track or school. I just can’t stay in one spot for too long of a time, so I’ve just got to keep going.

O: What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?

TS: It wasn’t quite embarrassing. It was kind of funny. When I won state in high school, I was on the top podium, and I was looking the third-place winner in the eye. So that’s kind of embarrassing because they told me I really was too short.

O: What do you want to do in the future?

TS: I really want to be a personal trainer, but if that doesn’t work out then I’ll be a sports psychologist.

O: Do you want to be a personal trainer in a gym or for a team?

TS: For a team or for the professionals, the stars. That’s where the money’s at.

O: Do you have a professional team you follow?

TS: I’m a big Falcons fan, and anything Tennessee. I love the Lady Vols basketball team, and Duke men and women’s basketball teams and the Houston Comets. The last one I saw was when (Tennessee) got their butts beat by Duke, and I was about to cry. I love both teams, but Tennessee is my team.

O: Do you have any unusual talents?

TS: I’m stronger than most of the guys I know, if that’s a talent. (Laughs.)

O: What kind of music do you listen to before a meet to pump you up?

TS: People laugh at me because everybody will be listening to Lil’ Jon and all that other stuff. I listen to like Floetry and Kill, all the laid-back, smooth stuff. The ones that people say will kind of put you to sleep, I listen to to hype me up.