Oceanside CA— Taylor Drescher is using her Marine Corps skills as a professional athlete in the National Pro Grid League(NPGL). Taylor is a member of the L.A. Reign.
Grid is the first ever professional spectator sport with two co-ed teams (7 men and 7 women) racing head-to-head in 11 races during a two hour match. The matches are televised on the NBC Sports Network.
Taylor, who was stationed at Camp Pendleton a little over a year ago, found her way into the league while working out at a gym in Culver City. “One of my goals when I got here was to train with Lindsey Valenzuela. I’ve looked up to her for a really long time. She’s an amazing athlete.” explained Taylor. Lindsey is a trainer at DogTown Crossfit and Olympic weightlifter.
Lindsey’s coach is Dusty Hyland, co-owner of DogTown Crossfit and former Head Coach of the LA Reign. Taylor said when she started training with them they told her, “Hey, you’re really strong. You should consider being in the Grid.”
Grid incorporates strategy, skill, and speed that tests a person’s endurance through weightlifting.
Taylor wasn’t sure how being a professional athlete would work with her being in the Marines “but I thought it was worth a try.”
Taylor had only seen one Grid match before she was told she should try out. “I was really intrigued from the beginning but I never really thought I would have a chance to do it.”
She went to her Command and got things approved for the tryout. “I’m really lucky to have a Command that is so supportive of my outside activities.” said Taylor “Obviously the Marine Corps is my number one priority but they’ve been willing to work with me, have been flexible with my schedule and as long as I get the job done at work, I’m good to participate with the Grid.”
So Taylor went for it. “I went to the combine, did really well and the LA Reign drafted me.”
Competition isn’t a new thing for Taylor. Before becoming a Marine, she had been a competitive cheerleader for fifteen years. “I was a cheerleader at the University of Louisville where we won the National Title three out of the four years I was there.” continued Taylor “So I’m use to being with a team, under pressure, in the spotlight.”
“Going out on a team, competing in the Grid, it really brings me back to my days as a cheerleader. Under the spotlights, everyone is working as a team to accomplish the same goal.”
Now and then, being a former cheerleader slips through to her competition on the Grid.
In a recent competition, after a series of hard moves, she went back to her teammates and they asked her why she was smiling. “Being a competitive cheerleader, I was use to completing difficult tasks but always doing it with a smile so it was something that was natural to me because I was having fun.”
Taylor said competing in the Grid is really intense. ” but I love working with my other teammates.”
Being a Marine has helped her work as a team member on the Grid. “Being a Marine, you learn really quickly that nothing is about you anymore. Everything is about taking care of other people, completing tasks in order to lighten the load for other individuals and it’s really like that with the Grid.” continued Taylor, “Marines are not your everyday people. They are polite, really push themselves and really like a challenge. There is just something unique about being a Marine.” Taylor added, “Nothing about the Grid is an individual mindset either and if you go into it with an individual mindset, then you’re wrong.”
Taylor said the Grid mirrors the Marines in other ways too. “In the Marines, everyone comes from different backgrounds. Everybody on the team is really different, really unique but they all have really good hearts and are really hard working people. The Grid competitors have really good hearts too and look to inspire the younger generation with their actions and being a good role model.”
The athletes just don’t look to inspire the younger crowd. Each team is required to have a male and female over the age of 40. The athletic tasks performed during a Grid match incorporate weightlifting, gymnastics and body-weight maneuvers. “The competitors who are 40 plus are hanging out with teammates in their 20’s. They are doing the same skills as people my age, just as well, if not better.”
Taylor trains six days a week for the Grid but doesn’t know what the future holds for her. “I have not made the commitment to stay in the Marines for the long haul. I am just taking it day to day.”
A lot of Taylors decision rest on what happens with the NPGL. “I have a lot of respect for the LA Reign owners Alec Hanson and Ray Bailey. They are genuinely good people who have taken such a large risk, invested a lot of time and money for something they believe in.”
Taylor concluded, “I would love to see Grid expand and continue to grow. I hope it continues in that direction and if it does, I hope to be a big part of it.”