June 25, 2021
Whether its rain or shine, you can usually find Taylor Wingerden either down on the farm or on the soccer pitch.
The Macedon, N.Y. native's day job is with Wegman's supermarket, running the company's vegetable and maple programs.
At nights and on the weekend, Wingerden turns to soccer. Many times, it's been as captain of the Rochester Lady Lancers since 2017.
Needless to say, she loves both roles.
Asked what it meant to play for the Lancers, whose history goes back to 1967, Wingerden replied, "The nostalgia of the Lancers and the history that they have. We have people showing up to our games, who don't know anybody on the team. They supported the Lancers back in the 70s when they were around. ... I didn't realize the type of commitment that these fans had towards the Lancers prior to going into these games and meeting these fans back when we could have those meet and greets."
Wingerden's Lancers' role has been seasonal. Her job at Wegman's is year-round.
After all, people have to eat.
"We worked all through COVID which in hindsight was a blessing because we had somewhere to go every day, and something to do where millions of people didn't have that. We were able to keep working and keep safely distance from everybody because we were outside."
Wegman's has many partners that it works with, that provides produce for its stores, Wingerden said.
"Our goal is a little bit different than your average farm," she said. "We try to find different varieties of already existing vegetables."
For example, Wegman's is trying a different variety of summer squash to sell in the store. So, Wingerden and her colleagues grow it on a small scale across two or three acres. If it is successful, they'll pass it on to one of their larger partner farms that can produce it for the entire supermarket.
"We're more really, at least on the vegetable side, innovation, and trial and error; a lot of trial and error," she said.
Weather in Western New York can be unpredictable, with long, cold winters and surprises the rest of the year.
"This is kind of like what I love most about the job, is that every single day you come in and, depending on the weather, your whole day changes," Wingerden said. "So, it really keeps you on your toes. Every single day is a story for me because I go in and I'm like, ‘Okay, this is the plan.’ Then I evaluate the weather. What it's going to do in a couple of days and what the soil conditions are like and then I go from there.
"It's really, really engaging. And it's not a monotonous job whatsoever. The summers are especially busy for us. That's also what just keeps me loving the job and being able to be outside and at least in the nice weather. We're out in the rain and snow sometimes but it's all worth it when you're outside on a beautiful day like today and you're out there for eight hours and you're just enjoying it."
That goes for her other love as well.
Wingerden, who turned 30 on June 19, was a four-year player at Palmyra-Macedon High School, while registering 45 goals and four assists as a senior in 2011. She was the Canandaigua Daily Messenger player of the year while earning All-Greater Rochester first-team honors and was an NSCAA All-Region II East all-star.
The 5-6 forward attended SUNY-Fredonia in Fredonia, N.Y. for a year before transferring to Monroe Community College. There, she collected 17 goals and 10 assists, while leading the Tribunes to a sixth-place finish nationally. Wingerden transferred to the University of Texas-San Antonio for her final two years before graduating and returning to Rochester in 2015.
Wingerden, who competed for the Rochester Lazers in the Rochester District Soccer League, learned about the Lady Lancers from her former coach at MCC, Sal Galvano, who was the team's first coach. He didn't have to do too much convincing.
"I was like, I am all in," she said. "I don't even know any details about it but ... the Lancers have such a rich history in Rochester. The fact that they were coming out with a women's team was just incredible and especially the level of competition. that is the highest level in Rochester for women."
From her first day as captain to now, Windergen has been a voice of experience. She has experienced the highs and lows of the sport and has always looked toward the bright side. It hasn't been easy because the Lady Lancers have lost more games than they have won.
The Lady Lancers (0-8-0, 0 points) are about to play their final home game ever - against Syracuse DA (2-2-2, 8) in a United Women's Soccer game at Charles A. Schiano Sr. Field at Aquinas Institute at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The Lancers men welcome Syracuse SC in a National Premier Soccer League encounter at 5 p.m.
"There's rollercoasters and hiccups and we've we're still trying to find our foot," she said. "And especially with like a new coaching staff and having to find new players so it's definitely been a challenge this year, but I could never give it up because it is so wonderful to be able to play in this type of competition, and also see all of these local players. There's maybe like five or six of us that are not in college anymore. To be able to watch these players come through the Lancers that are in college, I mean they're just incredible. They're killing it on the field, and to be able to see them live out their passion for the Lancers and then be able to go back to their school and keep up with that constant competition that's really I think what makes me the most happy."
Wingerden wasn't finished.
"It's tough sometimes when you're losing a lot and it's hard to keep that momentum going," she said. “A bunch of the older girls like myself, Elysia [Masters], Saundra [Baron], we've done all of this before. We have a lot of experience playing and a lot of experience losing so it's good to have some experience on the team to help keep younger players motivated, [the ones] that maybe don't really have that experience. We're mentoring them and trying to guide them through the process, especially girls that haven't gone to college yet. It's like oh my gosh, you're in for a wild ride and you try and guide them and help them on the field and off the field. That's probably the most rewarding part for me."
After Sunday contest, the Lady Lancers have one game remaining in the season at FC Buffalo on July 10 at 4 p.m., the team's final game ever.
Wingerden? She still wants to play. It appears there will be an opportunity with the Flower City Union. Earlier this week the Lancers and the National Independent Soccer Association club announced that the former's teams will be operated by Flower City.
"I would absolutely 100 percent go out, play with them and hopefully go to trial to make the team," she said. "Hopefully, there's a couple of others that come out too, and play to keep this game going. Rochester has a rich history in women's soccer with the [Western New York] Flash and just having all of those world class players. It feels like my duty to keep the game going. I know there's so many other local players that can do the same thing. To be able to keep that going would be absolutely wonderful for me."