It means, seize the day, make the most of the present time.
Since being diagnosed with brain cancer three years ago, Carpe Diem has been the words that Kent Taylor has lived by each and every day.
They’re two words that define his character, two words that define the positivity that is often displayed by the longtime and successful Norton High track and cross-country coach and dedicated member of the MSTCA.
In a fitting and most appropriate ceremony on Monday night, Taylor was honored with the unveiling of the school’s brand new track at Adams Field, which now bears his name as the Kent A. Taylor Track. Among the estimated 800 that were in attendance at the dedication ceremony was his wife Kaylene and their daughter Vera, his mother and father, Donna and Robert, and other family members as well as past and present athletes, their parents, fellow coaches, colleagues and many more.
Jake Antosca, a 2022 grad and former student-athlete under Taylor’s tutelage, was the person who spearheaded the project. Since coming up with the idea a year ago, Antosca has worked tirelessly with school officials to make that idea a reality.
The reality of it all came on a beautiful evening where the much-loved Taylor was surrounded by the scores of people whose lives have been touched by the pure genuineness of a person that has been more than a coach to the hundreds of athletes that he has coached, more than an English teacher to the multitude of students that have walked through his classroom door.
An often-emotional Antosca was one of several people that talked on behalf of Taylor. He spoke about his admiration for a coach that has racked up a plethora of accolades in his long tenure, one that’s included nearly 20 conference and state championships and an overall record of 337-165-4.
“Coach processes an unmatched mental and physical strength allowing him to bear any low that life will chose to throw at him. He’s been through a medical battlefield many of us would not dare to cross (and) he has come out unscathed,” he said. “Those who are great are great not because of what they do for themselves, but rather what they do for others. Coach, what you have done for not only myself but all the students, athletes and colleagues of Norton High School, reveals your kind, selfless and incomparable character. Your exuberant personality has become infectious inside and outside school. There’s never a day when you don’t cheer them up, help them out, teach them, coach them, or care about them. Every single current or past athlete to cross (Norton) cross country and track & field appreciates your empathy, unconditional support and generosity. Regardless of the athlete or event, you have been there for each and every athlete and as a result you have become the most incredible coach. What can I say – the greatest coach of all time in Norton track and cross-country history.”
In his 32-plus year career in education, Superintendent Joseph Baeta indicated how he was moved by Andosca’s efforts and the support of the students-athletes.
“I have never seen a student movement to name a facility after one of their coaches. Typically, this happens after retirement and all that. In this particular case, to have the civic pride of students wanting to do this is so meaningful and original to the community of Norton and the children they have. Thank you, Jake, for putting this together,” he said. “The naming of a facility, building, etc., is not just something that is done for anyone. It requires the process of a nomination, a review and a unanimous endorsement of the Norton High School Council as per policy. Then it comes to me and the full school committee for the final vote. All of it, from Day 1, was unanimous. No questions asked. It was the right thing that we wanted to do as a community.”
Taylor had the opportunity to talk near the conclusion of the ceremony and thanked all those for supporting him during his courageous battle with cancer. He also spoke about how he was humbled about the lettering on the track in front of him, which bears his name.
“The last couple of years have been very challenging for my family and I,” Taylor said. “As you may already know, I was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor It significantly changed the trajectory of my life and my family’s lives,” he said. “All things considered, my new life mantra has become Carpe Diem. I live by this every day and I would encourage all of you to try and do the same. A couple of months ago, our athletic director, Aarom Sumner, whose in attendance today, said their was a student-athlete movement to have this beautiful, brand-new, eight-lane track named after me. Initially, I was in shock and felt undeserving. However, after some time and discussion with colleagues, parents, athletes and students. I started tp realize this was actually going to happen after a petition circulated around Norton with student athletes at the driver’s seat. I have never been more humbled in my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about what’s currently happening right now and I am brought to tears. My wife Kylee can attest to that. I’ve been crying every day for two weeks.”
Past and present student-athletes of Norton High track and cross-country surround their coach Kent Taylor at Monday’s dedication ceremony.