TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Taylor Foster may not be a long-time Florida State fan, but no one has a more passionate connection with Seminole softball.
"Me and my best friend were watching the ACCs my freshman year" remembers the 16-year-old Foster. "There was just something about Florida State. You could just tell that they worked as a team, and they were just awesome."
Before Foster saw the Noles that day, she was once a softball player herself, with dreams of continuing her youth career on the collegiate level. Then in middle school, Foster says she started falling down while simply walking from place to place, as her legs would just give out from underneath her. An X-ray revealed the inside of one leg bone was hollow, and doctors diagnosed Foster with Osteosarcoma.
"The word 'cancer' for some reason didn't hit me as much as that I couldn't play softball anymore," says Foster. "That was my life. That's what I love to do."
Foster started chemotherapy in middle school, and has been on and off the drugs since. She has not attempted a return to the diamond, as that level of athletic activity would mean a knee transplant. But even tough Foster hasn't played softball in years, she still is passionate about the sport, and Florida State softball specifically.
Through a friend of a friend in North Carolina, Foster's story reached the Seminoles. At first, it was a phone call from coach Lonni Alameda. Then it was texting with some of the players. When FSU took a visit to North Carolina earlier this year, Foster met the team, and even got her own jersey as a sweet-16 present.
"I thought they didn't really care about high schoolers," says Foster, "but these girls are different. Coaches, players, managers, they all seem like they care so much, and I know that they care."
"We kind of adopted her like a little sister," says sophomore shortstop Maddie O'Brien. "she texts a couple of us prom pictures, and it's just really fun that she's like our little sister."
The Noles' simple offer of friendship has clearly had an impact on Foster, but in this team-fan relationship, the encouragement absolutely goes both ways.
"You have a few trials in your life," says sophomore pitcher Lacey Waldrop, "but there's nothing like that, and she has such a positive outlook. So it gives you something to think about: How blessed you are to play the game of softball everyday."
Coach Lonni Alameda says of Foster and several other girls the team has befriended, "To see where they're at in their fight, and then they think we're the superstars? I mean, that's just completely backwards. They're the ones that are just teaching us the lessons about life."
Though Foster has not completely ruled out a return to competitive softball in her future, she does hope to one day become a nurse and help patients like herself. As now now, Florida State is her number once choice in colleges.
And of course she wants to help out with the softball team while in Tallahassee.