Golfing in Memory of Taylor Emmons


(Left to right) Sierra VanSuch, Cameron Smalley, Desmond Lindsay

Taylor Emmons’ life was cut short at the age of 19, but his years were filled so significantly at the Out-of-Door Academy. In his senior year in 2009, Taylor and his baseball team set 14 school records in a single season. He was loved as a son, a friend, a leader, and his legacy will continue at ODA for many years through the Taylor Emmons Scholarship.

Many of the Temple Beth Sholom graduates come to ODA in ninth grade because it is structured similarly. Going into ninth grade after being at Temple Beth, Sierra VanSuch ’16 was accepted into both the IB and ACE programs, but ODA felt like the perfect switch for her. Sierra is gifted in sports, academics and music, and ODA focuses on all three. However, ODA is costly. Luckily, they learned of the Taylor Emmons Scholarship, which would cover the 4-year tuition. Upon hearing that Sierra was awarded the second scholarship, Mrs. Emmons exclaimed, “it’s a girl!”

“Sierra read everything she could about Taylor and felt like she knew him,” Mrs. VanSuch revealed, “they’re taking something that’s a tragedy and turning it into something that helps people.”

When Cameron Smalley ’17 asked his parents to attend ODA going into ninth grade, they said that they couldn’t afford it. Despite this, they shadowed ODA and Cameron fell even more in love with the school.

this is the only place I want to go to high school”

— Cameron Smalley


Cameron’s dream of going to ODA came true because of the Taylor Emmons Scholarship. By meeting the qualifications, Cameron applied and became the third recipient of the scholarship, joining Desmond Lindsay and Sierra VanSuch.

“[I have] endless thank yous. You don’t know what to say. He loves it,” Mrs. Smalley said, “it’s a huge blessing. The school was so good to them, they wanted to give back and have Taylor’s life live on. They think of our kids like their kids.”

On January 25th the 3rd Annual Charity Golf Classic and Poker Night commenced. Before the tournament, Cameron Smalley was presented this year’s Taylor Emmons Scholarship. The golf tournament was held at the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club on the Cyprus and Kings Dune courses and its purpose was to raise money for the Taylor Emmons Scholarship.  On certain courses, if you got a hole-in-one you won a new car from Gettle Toyota. On others, there was “golf insurance;” on insurance courses, if you paid a maximum of $100 and got a hole-in-one you received “insurance” of $10,000, or a minimum of $1 and win $100. That same night at 6:00 PM, the poker night took place at the Lake Club. The winner won $10,000 by the end of the night.

Any donation that was made, the Emmons would match. In previous years, the event raised over $100,000! The Emmons are a huge part of ODA and have made more than an impact here.

When asked what to say to the Taylor Emmons Scholarship recipients, Mrs. Emmons said, “[I’m] very thankful. They are the perfect choices and my son would be very proud.”

The day, although emotional, was successful and I encourage you all to participate in it in future years. You won’t regret it.

For more information about Taylor Emmons and the Taylor Emmons Scholarship click here.