At 6-foot, 8-inches tall in 1974, Brett Taylor epitomized the term big man on campus.

The towering Taylor was major force for the Miners as a player on the basketball team, a thrower on the track and field team, and later as a coach. For his efforts, he will be inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame.

“I think it’s a big honor,” Taylor said of his upcoming induction. “It feels kind of special that people remember me after 50 years … I really enjoyed my time at Nevada Union as an athlete, a student and a coach and a teacher. It made an impact on me because I spent my life teaching at high schools.”

Taylor graduated from Nevada Union in 1974, and later coached and taught at the school from 1982-90.

As a student at Nevada Union, Taylor was impressive on the basketball court, leading the Miners in scoring, rebounding, shooting percentage and free throw percentage in his junior and senior seasons. He was named to the All-Sierra Foothill League team in both those seasons and earned the Gene Jenkins Award which goes to Nevada Union’s Most Outstanding Basketball Player.

In track and field, Taylor was an elite thrower, winning the league championship in both shot put and discus as a junior and a senior. He set the school record in discus his senior year and was named the track and field team’s MVP.

“It was formative part of my life definitely,” Taylor said. “I enjoyed the school. I loved playing sports. If it wasn’t for sports I don’t think I would have been near as a good a student. That seemed to be my driving force.”

Taylor added that Nevada Union Hall of Famer Tim Kays was integral in helping him on and off the court.

“Aside from my dad, Tim was the most influential man in my life,” Taylor said. “Tim was just a really good man. A kindhearted man.”

Some of the lessons Taylor learned from Kays have stuck with him throughout his life.

“For me it was mainly hard work and persistence,” he said. “I was big, but I’m not a gifted athlete. I’m not God’s gift to coordination by any means. It was a lot of hard work and a lot of that credit goes to Tim. He was the one that was always pushing me. He really let me know I could be successful if I put in the time. That has served me well in everything I’ve done since.”

After graduating from Nevada Union, Taylor headed to the University of Texas on a basketball scholarship. But, his time in Texas was short lived after an injury in practice put his basketball career in doubt. Despite an offer to remain at Texas and continue his education, Taylor came back to California and enrolled at Sierra College where he went on to compete in track and field and break a school record in the discus. Taylor then made his way to UC Davis, where he found his way back on to a basketball court and helped the Aggies win a pair of conference championships.

After college, Taylor found work as a substitute at Nevada Union and as an assistant coach for Kermit Young and the Miners basketball team.

“Kermit has a fantastic basketball mind,” Taylor said. “When I walked on the floor with him for the first time, it was like I had never played. He just saw basketball at a whole other level that I was never exposed to.”

That was when Taylor discovered his passion for teaching. He would go on to get his teaching credential and has been an educator for the past 35 years.

Taylor coached basketball and track at Nevada Union from 1982 through 1990, eventually taking over for Young and winning a Capital Athletic League championship after the 1986-87 season. Taylor was also named the CAL Coach of the Year that season.

Taylor teaching career eventually took him to Montana, where he currently lives with his wife Leslie. While teaching in Montana, Taylor found more success on the basketball court, coaching Special Olympics basketball for eight years and winning eight Montana State High School Championships in that span.

“Probably the most fun I’ve ever had coaching,” he said. “The kids want to be there and they just want to have fun. It was a blast.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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