Where Are They Now? Amy Tao
Nov 03, 2017 13h06
By Jana Klopsch
An engagement picture from Amy (Hendry) Tao’s wedding. (Photo / Kira Lynn Wagner)
This article is part of a continuous series that highlights former high school athletes, where they are now, and how participating in high school athletics helped them to achieve their goals. This edition is highlighting Amy Tao.
Amy Tao (then Amy Hendry) attended Highland High from 2001-2004. She played girls soccer her freshman year under head coach West Bludworth (who is still at Highland working as the treasurer). Her remaining years were spent on the softball diamond, firstly under coach John Flores, and her junior and senior years she was coached by the late Michael Gallegos. Tao was a captain on the soccer team, and as well on the softball team her senior year.
When asked why she was led to play sports, she stated, “I am not really that athletic, but I liked the challenge of it I guess. I started playing soccer at a young age, maybe five or six, and it was rewarding to learn a skill as well as hang out with all the girls on the team. I learned to push myself, to trust in my teammates, how to work together and how to lead. Also, it was good for me both physically and mentally to be active and running around. I remember quitting piano because I had a hard time sitting still for long amounts of time. I tried out for the softball team at the request of my sister’s friend, Courtney. She knew I had played soccer and at the time, Highland was desperate for softball players so she asked me to just try out. I had never thought much about softball. The female athletes from the Highland area usually grew up playing soccer or tennis, so in that regard there was no real draw for me to play softball. I just said I would try out. Because of the low numbers and lack of experience I made varsity team as a sophomore.”
Tao had a natural affinity to softball because of the unique nature of the game.
“There are no changes in softball. You get three outs per team per inning. And the biggest difference is there is a destination of the runner. Everyone knows exactly where the runner is going, it is just the placement of the ball that is the key and unpredictable factor. It is as much of a team sport as an individual sport.”
The benefits of playing team sports do not end with the physical, as Tao explained, it also led to personal growth.
“As a child, I think it definitely helped my development in defining and extending physical limits, learning to share and becoming a team, but most importantly, I think that playing sports helps a person develop mentally and socially. I learned through playing sports, like in life, you have to take time to be good, that you have to work hard and that it will be full of both wins and losses.”
After graduating in 2004, Tao returned to Highland’s softball diamond, this time as a coach. Tao was known as Coach Hendry for the 2005 and 2006 softball seasons.
“In a lot of ways I loved coaching more than playing. It was a unique experience coaching some of the girls I had just been on the team with because I knew their strengths and weaknesses, but it also meant I knew how to approach them. You definitely have more authority as a coach than their captain, but it was an easy transition for all of us.”
Since her coaching days came to an end, Tao has remained active playing in various church and city leagues. But, as the demands of an adult life took hold, she found that softball had to take up less time in her schedule, though it is still an important part of her life.
“… As an adult your time is much more limited. You don’t have three hours every day for softball practice. You usually have zero practices and one game a week. Occasionally a team would be dedicated enough to hold batting practice every now and then, but much of your ability is on your own shoulders.”
It was on one of these teams that Tao met her now husband, Matt.
“He was a great teammate on the field. We worked well together—I was shortstop and he was my backer outfielder and was fast at getting the balls that got past me. Since we met on a team, our relationship began by working together and, in many ways, we never stopped.”
“We will start a family someday and I hope I can apply what I have learned in coaching to raising our kids. I will encourage them to participate in sports as I know the benefits of doing so, but I do look forward to learning many new skills as well. If an opportunity to coach was ever available again, I would do it in a heartbeat. I may even coach my kids—who knows what curve balls life will throw my way.”
Long-time friend Mary Brosnahan had this to say about Amy: “She is a force to be reckoned with. She is strong-willed and self-assured. She’s not afraid to be front and center yet doesn’t demand attention. Even through the tough exterior, her compassion, honesty, and passion for life and others shines. She sees the potential in others and demands them to strive for it.”
Another friend of Tao’s, Kendra Richards, had this to say: “Amy is the perfect woman. She is kind, has a heart full of fire, she’s compassionate and driven and strong. She is kind, she appreciates the beauty in life. She is dependable and trustworthy. There just aren’t enough good words in the English language to describe her.”