Stand Taylor Hammill next to her mother and it’s the latter who for now enjoys a decided height advantage.
This may not be the case a few years from now if Taylor, Center Grove’s 5-foot-11 sophomore setter, experiences more growth spurts.
Or it still might be.
Hammill is the eldest of Bob and Julie Hammill’s two daughters. It’s a family in which volleyball has long played a significant role — all the way back to when the former Julie Marx starred as a 6-3 middle blocker for Whiteland Community High School and later Clemson University.
THE HAMMILL FILE
Name: Taylor Hammill
Family: Parents, Bob and Julie; sister, Madison, 11
School: Center Grove
2013 statistics: 531 assists, 50 kills, 63 digs and 24 service aces
The mother-daughter dynamic began charting a slightly different course in August 2012. It’s here Julie, a longtime Center Grove assistant coach, found herself with a front-row view of Taylor’s high school matches.
Such situations have been known to strain family bonds regardless of the activity.
Parent coaches kid ... kid thinks parent is out of touch with today’s game and that the expectations are far too great ... dinner table silence.
“I’m totally fine with it. The first team my mom coached me in was softball, and I was probably 5,” said Taylor, who produced 600 assists as a freshman starter for the Trojans and already has 531 this season entering tonight’s home match against Class 4A No. 10 Lawrence North.
“I think having her as one of my coaches makes me better because she’s harder on me.”
Julie, as a Whiteland junior, led the program to its lone semistate berth to date in 1987, when the Warriors lost to McCutcheon. She went on to help Clemson post a 99-42 record from 1989-92, starting for the Tigers her sophomore and senior seasons.
Hammill served as an assistant for former Roncalli coach Kathy Nalley-Schembra before becoming Whiteland’s head coach in 1997. She became a Center Grove assistant during the Deb McClurg era and continues in that capacity with former Trojans setter Dana Daprile now midway through her second season as McClurg’s successor.
“When Taylor was growing up I coached her a lot. The relationship with her and I on the court is strictly player-coach. I think what’s great is Taylor’s in a different position than I was. She’s a setter and I was a middle blocker,” said Julie.
“Dana is a setter. Dana knows I will still critique Taylor, but when it comes to setting, that’s not my skill set.”
Daprile was a left-handed setter when she played for the Trojans. Aside from that, the coach has observed many similarities between herself and the player establishing the tone for Center Grove’s offense these days.
“I can relate to Taylor so much because we’re so much alike. I was quieter in high school and led by example more, and Taylor is that way, too,” said Daprile, whose squad has rebounded from a 5-10 record to defeat Warren Central, Southport and Western Boone in three-game sweeps. “I was in her shoes, but more and more I see her coming out of her shell a little bit.”
Hammill has tallied 30 or more assists in 10 of Center Grove’s 18 outings thus far, with the high being the 43 she had in a five-game marathon loss to 4A No. 6 Cathedral on Aug. 27. Hammill has 95 in the Trojans’ three-game winning streak, including 33 in Saturday’s home victory against Western Boone.
“As a freshman I saw in her the intangibles of being a setter,” Daprile said. “Taylor has really improved in all aspects of the game. She was getting better at the end of last season, but the improvement from regional to now is just a 180.”
All the while, Julie watches from a few feet away. A mother who is also a coach; a coach who happens to be a mother.