Jessica, Jordan Taylor used athletics to cope with relocation
PHIL CAMPBELL – Disagreements among siblings is a normal part of growing up and is evident in the reactions of Jordan and Jessica Taylor when they found out they were moving to Phil Campbell.
Jordan liked the idea because he would be closer to his older brothers, Jonathan and Justin. Jessica, his twin, wasn't so optimistic.
"I didn't want to come here because it was too country," Jessica said. "Then I started playing basketball and began to like (the town)."
The teens were uprooted from their New Orleans home in August of 2005 as Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the Louisiana coast.
The Taylors made the trip to Phil Campbell because they had family in the area.
Relocating to a new school across town can be hard, but moving to a new school nearly 400 miles away is tough. Jessica and Justin turned to sports to help them cope with the transition.
"I was nervous at first, but everybody was nice," Jordan said. "Football helped me fit in."
Jordan followed the shoes of older brother Jonathan, who played football at the University of North Alabama, and hit the gridiron.
Jessica followed Justin – who is the varsity boys coach at West Limestone – and took up basketball.
Phil Campbell varsity girls coach Amy Moss remembers when the transfer arrived. She said Jessica started out as shy, quiet and reserved.
"We took up donations and bought Phil Campbell items to make her feel like she was part of Phil Campbell," Moss said. "She didn't play a whole lot that year, but she gained skill practicing against the older girls."
Jessica used that experience to become one of the best rebounders in Lady Bobcat history. She set two school records last season -total rebound average at 13.1 and offensive rebound average at 5.6 per game.
Moss credits Jessica's success with her competitive nature and her drive.
"She never asked how many points she scored but she does ask about rebounds," Moss said. "If she doesn't get double-digit rebounds, it is a let down for her."
By the end of the Franklin County Tournament Jessica had compiled 862 career rebounds and was averaging 9.3 per game since 2005.
There is a simple reason Jessica values rebounding more than scoring.
"Well, they come easier," she said. "I'm not as talented at scoring."
Though the mark of 1,000 career rebounds is probably out of reach, Jessica is happy with her school records. Her brother is happy with them too.
"Justin tells me how proud he is all the time," Jessica said.
While Jordan didn't have as much impact on the football team as Jessica did on the basketball team, he still has some very special memories.
"Last year when we were playing West Morgan I hurried the quarterback twice and forced him to make a bad pitch," Jordan said. "We recovered both."
Jordan has enjoyed his time in Phil Campbell saying the people are much more friendly than in New Orleans.
"People weren't unfriendly in New Orleans, but you probably wouldn't see the same people twice," Jordan said. "Here everybody is so nice."
Phil Campbell has grown on the twins and they plan to stick around for a little while after they graduate.
Both plan to start their college education at Northwest-Shoals Community College before possibly transferring to UNA.
Jordan is hoping to once again follow Jonathan's footsteps and become an accountant.
Jessica is interested in becoming a teacher and a coach although she has gotten advice against it.
"I thought about teaching, but coach Moss tells me I shouldn't," Jessica said. "I've thought about (coaching) junior high, but I don't want to do varsity."
Three and a half years after moving from the big city to the small town, Jessica and Jordan Taylor have enjoyed the change.
They have left their mark on Phil Campbell and Phil Campbell left its mark on the Taylors.
"When our school reopened and it came time to go back to New Orleans I didn't want to leave," Jessica said.
Apparently Phil Campbell was not too country after all.