Taylor Gurysh

School: Neshaminy




Favorite athlete:  Joel Embiid

Favorite team:  Sixers

Favorite memory competing in sports: Winning the SOL Patriot Division my senior year.

Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: My dad coached my eighth grade basketball game in a buddy elf costume

Music on playlist: Country- specifically Morgan Wallen

Future plans: Playing basketball at Kutztown University

Word to live by: “No one owes you anything, but you owe it to yourself to go after what you want.” -Cornell Thomas

One goal before turning 30: Travel to Italy

One thing people don’t know about me: I hate silverware and would rather eat with plastic utensils.

By Mary Jane Souder

Coaches are reluctant to talk about their favorites.

Understandable, for sure, but when it comes to players he’s enjoyed coaching, John Gallagher has no qualms acknowledging that Neshaminy senior Taylor Gurysh falls into that category.

“Taylor is one of my favorite players to coach because she gives and receives feedback on a regular basis,” said Gallagher, who took over the helm of the Neshaminy program from Joe Lalli last year. “Taylor listens to the feedback and finds ways to make meaningful improvements because she always wants to grow and get better. And when the feedback is negative, she is highly self-aware and does not take things personally.”

So valued was Gurysh’s feedback that Gallagher can list multiple examples of the coaches entering the halftime locker room and asking the senior captain – who will continue her basketball career at Kutztown University - what she was seeing on the court that they might be missing.

“Her feedback is typically insightful and leads to excellent communication among the players and coaches with an exchange of ideas beneficial to the outcome of our games,” Gallagher said.

The Redskins’ coach had an idea he might be relying on Gurysh after his first meeting with the players to introduce himself and the coaching staff in June 2021.

“I was looking to learn the nuances and traditions the program had because I wanted to maintain those traditions,” he said. “The more insight I sought, the more helpful Taylor was at recognizing what I was looking for.

“That day set the precedent to who I was going to lean on to help smooth the transition from coach Lalli to the new staff.”

It was hardly unexpected that Gurysh stood out in a crowd. After all, she had been a team captain since her sophomore year, finishing her career with the rare distinction of being a three-year captain.

“As Taylor began her junior year under new coaches, she stood out for the way she led drills and communicated with her teammates,” Gallagher said. “It was in a leading manner but in no way was it demeaning to the players.  Her ability to communicate exceptionally well with the players and the new staff stood out in my mind.

“Watching Taylor in those early days, I saw a player who could play multiple positions, handle multiple responsibilities and quickly picked up on the teaching points of emphasis we were trying to instill.  I saw someone who could handle the ball, post up, get to the rim, and defend any player on our roster.  As a staff, it gave us an opportunity to try different things during the open gyms and preseason workouts.”

Basketball in a softball family

Gursyh grew up in a softball family. Her only sibling – older sister Kiley – is playing softball at Sacred Heart University.  Her father, Ken Gurysh, coached softball, including a year as head coach of Neshaminy’s varsity.

It was a natural progression that Taylor would follow in the footsteps of her older sister, and she began playing t-ball at a young age.

“My sister was my role model in that sense,” she said. “I wanted to do everything she did.”

Gurysh’s two main sports growing up were softball and swimming. She began playing basketball in fifth grade with CYO and joined the AAU circuit a year later.

“After middle school was over, I decided to drop playing softball,” Gurysh said. ‘I was also playing field hockey in middle school, so I decided to stop both of them and pursue basketball.

“I get bored very easily, and softball was just too slow-paced for me. Basketball just brought a rush – you were always running around doing so much stuff. In softball, you would sit there and wait for the next pitch. It was like – not for me.”

Basketball, however, was for Gurysh, and her parents were supportive of her decision.

“They could tell I wasn’t as interested as my sister at all,” she said. “I would complain about practice and stuff.”

Gurysh’s commitment to basketball paid dividends when she earned a spot on the varsity as a freshman on a squad anchored by a strong senior class. A season that began with the rookie contributing as a role player culminated– due to injuries – with Gurysh playing important minutes and starting a playoff game.

It was around that time that Gursyh made an important decision.

“In my freshman year, I was like, ‘Oh I want to play college basketball,’ but I didn’t really realize what that meant,” she said. “One of my trainers – (former Archbishop Wood and University of Massachusetts star) Pam Rosanio – really got it through my head what it was going to take and how much hard work you have to put in.”

One year later – as a sophomore – Gurysh was elected a captain of a young and inexperienced squad.

“It was definitely eye opening,” she said. “I felt like I could do a good job, but it was weird being younger than the majority of the team and having that role.

“I felt uncomfortable in that sense, but it taught me what I needed to do to be a leader. And it prepared me for my junior and senior year a lot.

“My summer going into my junior year I realized if I want to play in college I really need to work hard, and I think I just had that mindset and was like – I want to do this, and I started working really hard to try and achieve it.”

Gurysh’s junior year included the transition to a new coaching staff when coach Joe Lalli chose to step down. John Gallagher was named his replacement.

“As Taylor began her junior year under new coaches, she stood out for the way she led drills and communicated with her teammates,” Gallagher said. “It was in a leading manner but in no way was it demeaning to the players. Her ability to communicate exceptionally well with the players and the new staff stood out.”

The transition from Lalli to Gallagher and a new system was seamless.

“I loved both of them as coaches,” Gurysh said. “Their coaching style is totally different, but I loved how they coached. When I heard about it and how we were switching coaches, I had to adapt to the different stuff he would do, and I would try and be a role model for other people going through the same thing that might not be as comfortable.

“I would try and bounce things off him and my teammates and try to communicate through what would be working and what’s not working because everyone has different expectations. So I would just listen to my teammates and what he’s saying and try to find common ground to make everything go smoother.”

Last year, the Redskins finished second to Pennsbury in the SOL Patriot Division, and this year won the title.

“It was so good especially winning it with this team,” Gurysh said. “I felt like this team this year – we were all really close and had such a good bond.  We all worked so hard this season, and to get something out of it like that really meant a lot. I just think it was something we needed to accomplish, and we really worked hard the whole season to try and accomplish it.”
What will she remember most about?

“Playing the games but all the little things – the bus rides, the pasta parties, all the little inside jokes we have,” Gurysh said. “We are just so close, and it made it so much fun because you have to like the people you’re with because you’re with them every day so just having such good chemistry made it so much easier.”

Gurysh has received all-league recognition in each of the last two years. She averaged 8 points, 5.1 rebounds and had the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team as a senior but stats are only a part of the story for Gurysh.

The lighter side

If it sounds like it’s all work and no play for Gurysh, it isn’t. As the player charged with maintaining the team’s social media presence this year, the senior captain – according to her coach – did a terrific job. Except when it came to highlighting her own accomplishments.

Gursyh was part of a prank when Gallagher’s birthday rolled around this winter.

“I posted a picture of him from our media day – we were like, ‘Oh, come on, you have to get your picture taken. It will be so funny,’ so he got one,” Gurysh said. “His daughter (Megan Gallagher), our assistant coach said, ‘Just post it.’ I said, ‘He’s going to yell at me.’ She said, ‘Just tell him it was me.’

“He was not happy, and I was like – ‘It was your daughter,’ and he said, ‘She would never do that.’”

“I wasn’t overly thrilled,” Gallagher said. “But her teammates loved that she went ahead and posted it. It made for a raucous and fun bus trip that day to our game at Bensalem.

“As a ‘punishment,’ I told the jayvee team we should tell Taylor that one of the jayvee players was now in charge of social media, but who would have the nerve to tell Taylor?

“Our most unassuming and quiet frosh Amanda Okwara spoke up and said, ‘I’ll do it’ to the explosion of laughter from the jayvee girls. Watching Amanda walk up to Taylor in the Bensalem locker room and say to her, ‘Since you posted that pic of Coach Gal, I’m taking over the social media accounts’ was priceless. The fact that a very new player to the team was willing to step outside her comfort zone showed how behind Taylor’s steely demeanor was a person our younger players could have fun with.”

The prank naturally didn’t end there.

“He got me back on my birthday – he asked my mom for all these baby pictures and posted them. I was like ‘Of course, he did,’” Gurysh said.

The next chapter

Kutztown University is Gurysh’s next stop. She committed last August and will continue her basketball career and major in business administration.  

“They started reaching out to me during AAU season, and I was obviously keeping my options open,” she said. “I was like – okay, I was considering it, but once they took me up on a visit, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I loved the campus. They offered my major, the coaching staff is so nice, the team was so welcoming. Everything about it just made it seem like a family community, and that’s one thing I was looking for, so it really stood out to me.”

In the classroom, Gurysh has maintained a 4.27 GPA through her most recent grading period and is a member of the Distinguished Honor Roll and also a member of the National Honor Society.

Gurysh is a Student Council Homeroom Representative and a dual enrollment student at Bucks County Community College, taking Intro to Business, English Composition and, for the current semester, Marketing and Psychology.

In her spare time, Gurysh has volunteered for the Mid-Atlantic Magic, serving as an in-house basketball instructor. She has given of herself in support of the Coaches vs. Cancer initiative and is an important part of the school district’s Neshaminy Academy of Basketball, serving boys and girls in our area.

“Taylor has proven herself as a distinguished leader in the areas of academics, leadership and her potential for success,” Gallagher said. “She has utilized the competition of sports to assist her with time management, communication and organizational skills.

“I can say without hesitation that Taylor Gurysh’s future is destined to be one of setting goals and working hard to achieve each of those goals.”