Like a truly great leader, Taylor Choate leads by her actions.
The Nashua native is now a senior tri-captain for the Bowdoin College women’s basketball team. The Polar Bears are unbeaten at 12-0, No. 1 in the country in Division III, and are fresh off an 82-63 win over No. 4 Tufts on Saturday.
All the while, Choate has been a key part of the Polar Bears’ recent dominance, and it may have never happened.
Bowdoin coach Adrienne Shibles was looking at another player at an AAU tournament in Washington D.C., but saw Choate instead and wanted her wearing the black and white.
“I watched (Taylor) play, and the passion she had showed through,” Shibles said. “I was like ‘I want to work with this kid’. I invited her to campus and gratefully, she loved it.”
This season, Choate has done a lot of everything for the Polar Bears. Second on the team in points (11.3), second in assists (3.8), fourth in rebounds (3.6), and one of three players to start every game this season, Choate’s presence in big moments has been a key for Bowdoin this season as it was last year when the Polar Bears advanced to the national title game.
“I would say all of my basketball career from when I was young, playing AAU, and high school has prepared me for college,” I’ve learned so much over my career that has helped make me the player I am today.”
That career blossomed at Nashua North under the tutelage of Ricky Oliver. Now the coach at Salem High, Oliver helped develop Choate from a raw, talented freshman into the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,343 points.
A three-year captain at North, Choate was named Miss New Hampshire basketball in 2015 and was also a state champion in track and field.
“She was very athletic, skilled,” Oliver said. “Her confidence was like ‘Yeah I can play but there’s kids better than me.’ My thing with her was that I had to make her believe. I was like, ‘Look, you’re as good as anyone in this league; you’ve just got to come and play to your ability.’ She got better every year.”
Off the court, Choate has excelled in the classroom since high school. Bowdoin is a top academic institution, and Choate was a member of multiple honor societies during her time at North. She was looking at a slew of high-academic colleges, including Dartmouth, before picking Bowdoin.
“The academics and athletics work well together,” Choate said. “Our coach supports us in our academic affairs just as much as she does in athletics. The same goes for our professors. It makes it easier.”
Off the court, Choate is part of a large, tight-knit family. There have been Choates on the varsity at North for years and her younger cousins Jordyn and Brenden are currently players for the Titans.
For the younger Choates, having someone like Taylor in the family has helped them grow both as players and as people.
“It’s totally great because she always helps me if I need anything,” said Jordyn, a sophomore on the girls’ team. “I call her and we go over stuff about the game. She gives me pointers. It’s give and take. It’s great.”
“It’s always nice because she comes down during the college vacations and plays with me and my cousins at St. Pat’s,” said Brenden, a junior on the boys’ team. “She lets me know what the college basketball scene is up there and how hard she has to work every day. It gives me a glimpse of what I need to do to get better.”