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Athlete Worth Watching: Mayowa Taiwo from Rockbridge Academy

Feb 28, 2018 04:00PM

By Tom Worgo

Buildings fascinate standout three-sport athlete Mayowa Taiwo. The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.  and the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore are two of her favorite places.

“If I see a building, I like to go inside and take a tour to see what went into it, how it is built, and why they shaped it that way,” says Taiwo, whose mother, Yinka Williams-Taiwo, owns a business that builds single-family homes. “You are seeing what someone is thinking and you see the structure come to reality. The structure was in their head, they drew it, and now it’s a real thing.” 

Her interest in this field is so strong she plans to major in civil engineering at George Washington University, where she will play basketball on a scholarship. Earning the scholarship was made easier by her extracurricular activities and her two-page resume.

Taiwo, a senior at Rockbridge Academy in Millersville, who carries a 3.84 grade point average, plays the violin in an orchestra, sings in a choir at school, and performs modern dance in a group at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville once a month. On top of that, the 17-year-old plays guitar and piano in her free time.

But basketball is also a big priority for the Hanover resident. When Taiwo, a 5-foot-11 forward, picked a college, basketball was just as important as academic considerations.

“I picked GW because they have the best academics, along with the best basketball program out of the schools that recruited, and I think they are the best in their conference,” Taiwo says. She picked the Colonials over offers from George Mason, Lafayette, Morgan State, and Florida Gulf Coast. “There were a bunch of other schools, but that was my top five.”

Taiwo wasn’t always sure she’d play basketball in college. She loves soccer that much, too. “In my mind, I haven’t been able to put one over the other since I have been playing both of them for such a long time,” Taiwo says. “I can’t pick one over the other.” Her love for both sports delayed her picking a college. She had been aggressively recruited for soccer by Navy and Liberty.

In the end, Taiwo verbally committed to play basketball at George Washington at the end of October and signed a National Letter of Intent the next month. “She was undecided for a while about whether she would play basketball or soccer in college,” says Rockbridge Girls Basketball Coach Donna Griffith, whose team practices and plays its games at Leadership Through Athletics in Baltimore because the school doesn’t have a gym. “I think she is the most gifted athlete in Anne Arundel County. She has incredible athleticism that enables her to master any sport she plays.”

Taiwo dominates on the basketball court. She’s started on the varsity team at Rockbridge since the eighth grade and averaged a double-double in every game as a junior. Her basketball resume also includes two 40-point games as a sophomore, including a career-high 47 in a victory over Greater Grace Christian Academy. “She is the total package,” Griffith says. “She rebounds very well, she is a good ball handler, and can drive to the hole. She plays with such great strength and determination. She’s pretty intimidating. When I’m on the court coaching and she is coming toward me, I get out of her way.”

Taiwo elevated her game this season by playing for a highly-regarded AAU team, the Maryland Shooting Stars, where she became more physical after averaging 16 points and 14 rebounds per game. “She is playing tougher and taking on contact,” says Yinka Williams-Taiwo, a Rockbridge assistant basketball coach. “Before, she wouldn’t go looking for contact.”

On the soccer field, Taiwo had no problem finding the back of the goal as high-scoring forward.

She led Rockbridge in scoring for four straight seasons, including notching a whopping 55 goals as a sophomore. Taiwo, who is also a standout lacrosse player, scored seven goals in a game in 2016 in a rout over Southern Maryland Christian Academy. “She didn’t play club soccer,” Rockbridge Girls Soccer Coach Lou Schwartz says. “This was basically something she did a couple of months a year, but she was still very dominant.”  

Griffith said Taiwo is just a rare student-athlete.

“I started our basketball program at our school in 2005 and was our athletic director,” she explains. “I can say I have never seen another athlete be such a well-rounded person outside of athletics in terms of her involvement with church and music and academics. She is in league of her own.”

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