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Taylor Markley commits to the University of Bridgeport

It’s a sport that she has been working at since she was 3-years-old.

Now, she will get a chance to continue plying her gymnastics skills through her collegiate years.

Woodstock Academy senior Taylor Markley signed her National Letter of Intent to the University of Bridgeport on Wednesday at Deary’s Gymnastics in Danielson to compete for its Division II program.

“Ever since I was really young, I’ve always wanted to do college gymnastics. It was never like, ‘I want to go to the Olympics’, it was always ‘I want to do college gymnastics,’” she said.

Her dream has come true.

It has been a labor of love for the senior.

It hasn’t been without its challenges.

She has suffered back and ankle injuries and this past April, a serious elbow injury.

Donned in Bridgeport purple, Markley said the offer to compete in college has made all the effort and pain worth it.

“Especially after my elbow, I didn’t really know what was going to happen whether any school would actually want me. I guess after signing and knowing where I am going, it has made it all worth it,” Markley said.

Markley had a tremendous junior season and, in retrospect, it’s a good thing that she did.

She was the Eastern Connecticut Conference individual champion and led the Centaurs to a 12th straight ECC title this past winter.

She then guided Woodstock Academy to its 11th straight state championship as it took the Class M title.

Markley capped it off by winning the State Open individual title and finished second in the New England championship.

But in the USA gymnastics regional in April, she suffered a major setback.

On a round off on vault, something in her elbow popped.

“It was a freak thing. Obviously, there was some wear-and-tear, there had to be, for it to just go like that. It was one of those strange injuries,” Woodstock Academy coach Kasey Tocchio said.

Markley had torn “everything” in her elbow.

She had surgery on the first day of school this fall.

“I had to get Tommy John surgery. I’m out for, I’m pretty sure, another six months. I don’t think I will have a season this year but when I get to college, my goal is, obviously, to compete in whatever events I will compete in and make it to Regionals and Nationals. I can’t do anything this year, though,” Markley said.

Tocchio said she knows Markley wants to come back as soon as possible, but it will be a long road.

And while she will be missed in competitions, Markley is still in the gym.

“She has already taken on a role here, helping out the girls, so I know she will do that through the high school season. It’s going to be really sad not to see her have a senior year. We’re hoping she might be able to go out to Senior Nationals and, hopefully, by the end of her USA career, she will be able to do something,” Tocchio said.

She was being recruited by several schools, but after the injury, Markley admitted she didn’t hear from some anymore.

Bridgeport remained in contact.

“It seems like they really care. They still took me with being injured and knowing that I will still have to have a lot of rehab once I get there,” Markley said.

She plans to be a business major.

Tocchio was a bit emotional when she was introducing Markley to a gathering of friends and family for the NLI signing.

“Most of these kids I’ve had since they were little but Taylor is different. She’s been here since she was really little and now, she’s a scholarship athlete. I’m extremely happy she chose Bridgeport. The coaching staff there is going to the best for her. I’ve, personally, worked with a couple of them and their head coach (Lorraine Galow) was just inducted into the University of Bridgeport Hall of Fame for gymnastics. It’s a spectacular program for her to be going to,” Tocchio said.

Markley said she felt comfortable at Bridgeport both with the members of the team and coaching staff.

“They were all so welcoming and it wasn’t scary. They seemed like a close family and were all nice to one another and got along perfectly fine. It’s something I wanted to be a part of,” Markley said.

Despite it being a Division II program, there are only four Division II programs in the country thus the competition will be actually much higher.

“For the most part, they do compete against D-I schools and a lot of girls from Bridgeport last year competed at Division I regionals. That’s the goal, hopefully, I get there,” Markley said with a smile.