June 25, 2017
Walk into the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Texas-San Antonio and you probably won't find Taylor Wingerden as the poster student for the major in kinesiology.
Oh, she did just fine as a student athlete, playing soccer for the Roadrunners while earning her bachelor of science degree.
It's the post-college part of the degree procurement that isn't listed anywhere in the university syllabus.
She took her kinesiology degree back to Western New York and became a farmer.
Go figure. It's not like there's any correlation between the study of the mechanics of body movements and growing organic fruits. But this is Wingerden's life now.
"I'm fixing a tractor one day and one of my co-workers says, 'Did you ever see yourself doing this?' " Wingerden recalled. "Two years ago, this is not how I imagined my life would be."
Whether it was two months ago, two weeks ago, two days ago and two hours ago, though, Wingerden has had no desire to change a thing. She's beyond content working for Wegmans at their organic farm orchard on Lake Road in Canandaigua.
"I love it," she said. "It's great."
What makes even better: she's still able to play soccer. Wingerden has been the most dangerous striker for the Rochester Lady Lancers in their inaugural United Women's Soccer League season.
On Saturday afternoon, the Lady Lancers' home finale, she scored the tying goal in the 32nd minute but the Western New York Flash powered away to a 3-2 victory at Charlie Schiano Sr. Field on the Aquinas Campus. Macaylah Arieno scored the second goal for the Flash, who dropped to 0-7-1.
What's that they say about the best-laid plans?
"A lot of what we thought might happen, might not have happened in terms of winning," Wingerden said. "But it's been a year of development. For putting a team together in 30 days, we've come a long way, and it shows in the scores, in how competitive the games are."
Wingerden, a 2010 graduate of Palmyra-Macedon High School, has enjoyed the opportunity to keep playing. Her collegiate career ended with the 2014 NCAA Division I season and her skill level with the ball and on the attack has been evident each game.
Off the pitch, she has taken a liking to her new profession. While working on the Wegmans organic farm was more a product of happenstance than grand plan, she says it's been a great fit. She's growing and harvesting produce such as apples, grapes, peaches, blueberries and cherries.
"They're trying to promote organic products and also find different ways to help local farmers who supply their stores with products," Wingerden said of Wegmans. "We consult with Cornell a lot about the advancements in agriculture."
It's definitely a long way from what she learned in school, such as why an elbow hurts, or what exercises will provide a full range of motion in a recuperating knee.
Now the primary concern can be rounding up enough staff to harvest a crop of cherries after a sudden heat wave.
"If it gets really hot, things like cherries ripen quickly," she said. "You're sometimes dealing with very short timing labor needs."
But there's actually a strong correlation to soccer and her workplace. It's all about teamwork.
"The people I work with are amazing," she said. "They're there to ensure we get out a great product, but also to help you develop your work skills."
The Lady Lancers finish their season with a pair of road games, at Long Island on Friday and Lancaster on Saturday.
The men's team returns home on July 15 to play Erie in a game that could decide a final playoff spot, or be a prelude to a Lancers' NPSL playoff game.