If you've been out to Sweeney Field for a Saint Joseph's women's lacrosse game over the last year, you've seen Taylor Newman-Farr. At 5-foot-10, #22 is tough to miss.
The two-way midfielder covers the field with a little bit of everything. She scores goals, scraps for loose balls, and grinds for possessions as one of SJU's top draw control specialists. She does what it takes to get the Hawks to their next play.
She plays with purpose and discipline, as if she knows everything about leaving it on the field and nothing about taking plays off, which makes sense when you consider her background.
Newmann-Farr is from a military family. Her grandfather retired a master sergeant, her great-uncle retired a colonel, and her cousin retired a lieutenant colonel, all from the Air Force.
Her father, Dustan Farr, was a Marine.
Her mother, Tamara Newman, enlisted.
The military is what she knew, and with her father stationed out across the ocean for a large part of her childhood, Newman-Farr was raised in the States.
"It was just me and my mom growing up," said Newman-Farr. "My dad was stationed out in Cuba and all of these other places. But wherever my granddad went is where I went. It was mainly around Virginia, so it wasn't too bad."
Newman-Farr settled in Reston, a northern Fairfax County community just miles from the Maryland border and located within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
She attended South Lakes, Reston's primary high school, where she excelled athletically in three programs, including varsity lacrosse and varsity basketball; she was a three-time All-Liberty Conference lacrosse selection and ranked 15th in the Class 6 Northern Region for goals as a junior in 2016 and captained the Seahawks on the court.
It would come as no surprise, considering her military background, that the third program in which Newman-Farr was involved was the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). It would come as a surprise, considering her military background, that she joined by accident.
JROTC is a federal program sponsored by the United States Armed Forces in high schools across the United States and United States military bases across the world. The purpose of the program is to instill in students the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment, with an overall mission of motivating young people to be better citizens.
"I didn't want to go into JROTC in high school," explained Newman-Farr. "When I was in middle school and we were making our schedules for freshman year [of high school], I wanted to go into sports medicine, but that's a junior and senior class, and I didn't know that. So my teacher told me to put down a different class, and I just marked down the first one... which happened to be JROTC. I got my schedule and was like, 'Oh my Gosh, Mom, I have to change this!'"
That was a no-go for mom.
Tamara Newman insisted that her daughter stick with the program for her freshman year at South Lakes High and, if she didn't grow to like JROTC in that time, she could drop it.
Guess how that worked out?
"A month into school, and I was on the drill team," smiled Newman-Farr. "I was so into the program [in such a short amount of time] and was like, 'I really got myself into something here.'"
Newman-Farr worked her way from a freshman corporal to a sophomore staff sergeant before she shot up into the officer ranks as a junior (sergeant first class) and senior (company commander).
The program tested her physically. Three times a week - Monday, Wednesday, and Friday - Newman-Farr would attend JROTC for 75-minute blocks. Fridays were for physical fitness (PT). Sometimes, she and her mates would play dodgeball. Sometimes, it was a bit more.
Her hardest workout came during her sophomore year.
"I had just made the varsity basketball team, so I was like, 'I really can't be getting into PT this hard,'" recalled Newman-Farr. "I remember thinking that I needed to be ready for the games. My company commander was in the reserves and was going into the Marines after high school, and he was such a workout fanatic. I think we did every ab workout on the planet. That day, we did 50 jumping jacks at the beginning and, right before class ended, we did 50 more. We did 50 push-ups that day, too. It was really hard, and I still have nightmares about it."
And then she'd go to basketball. Or lacrosse. The thing to realize is that just hours later, when the academic day ended, Newman-Farr was headed out for her varsity practice or game, with expectations high as she was a leader on both squads.
"It was basically playing three sports, all year round," added Newman-Farr.
The program also tested her mentally.
"My Senior Army Instructor (SAI) was a major in the Army, and he didn't play any games," said Newman-Farr. "He didn't take crap from anybody. We were going to be on this track and if we strayed from it, there was going to be a lot to pay. He definitely kept me on track with making sure I kept my grades up. To be on drill team, you could only have one 'C' on your report card, otherwise you weren't allowed to go to competitions... and competitions were the best part of drill team."
Newman-Farr won first place at the Century High School Drill Competition and second place at the North Carolina Regional Drill Competition.
She was the recipient of the Donna De Verona Women in Sports Award for South Lakes High as a senior and, when all was said and done, she was headed to Hawk Hill to take flight as a Division I student-athlete.
And JROTC was more than just a factor in that process.
"I really dove into that program, and it disciplined me into the athlete that I am now," said Newman-Farr. "I honestly can thank it all to my Army Instructor (AI) and SAI."
That AI, Sergeant Anthony Handy, left an impact.
"I had a good relationship with my father, but I didn't have much of a father figure and after my grandfather died, Sergeant Handy took me under his wing," said Newman-Farr. "He helped me so much. I still keep in contact with him to this day. Every time I talk to him, he's like, 'Newman, you can't play, don't play!' So if I start to mess up, I think about how sergeant Handy would roast me if he saw that. He definitely left an impression on me."
One of the biggest lessons Handy engrained in the mind of Newman-Farr was that nothing in life would be handed to her, and when she arrived on Hawk Hill in August 2017, she was ready to work.
"I would have been able to handle the transition into college, but I think that I was able to handle it much better from being in JROTC," reflected Newman-Farr.
Newman-Farr would go on to make 14 appearances as a rookie Hawk in Spring 2018, recording the third-highest games played total among all SJU newcomers. She scored six goals in her first four collegiate games, including a pair in her collegiate debut against Georgetown. She battled for every possession, adding eight ground balls, eight draw controls, and four caused turnovers on the year.
This year, she doesn't come off the bench.
In all three starts thus far, Newman-Farr leads SJU's starting midfield unit with five points on two goals and three assists to go with four ground balls, four draw controls, and two caused turnovers.