Leaving a legacy

Kay Taylor, Rollo’s wife presented UWL Men’s Basketball Coach Kent Dernbach with a plaque that will list freshman award recipients.

Former UWL coach being remembered for his impact

A longtime former UW-La Crosse men’s basketball coach is being remembered with a new endowment aimed at supporting the men’s basketball program.

Rollo Taylor, ’56, loved the university and had a special place in his heart for former students, players and coaches. And they had a special place in their heart for him. Taylor was an assistant coach with the UWL men’s basketball team from 1965-1986.

Many are helping Taylor’s legacy live on by supporting the newly formed Rollo Taylor Endowment for Men’s Basketball, which will provide annual funding for coaching excellence, recruiting efforts and team travel. And, The Rollo Taylor Outstanding Freshman Basketball Award has been created to recognize freshman student-athletes showing leadership, scholarship, character and basketball ability.

The fundraising kicked off Nov. 1 at the Kohl Center prior to the UWL men’s basketball exhibition game against the Badgers. A sold-out reception heard the plans for the endowment that will generate dividends into perpetuity to support the UWL Men’s Basketball program that was such a big part of Taylor’s life.

The Coach Rollo Taylor Legacy Celebration, which includes a spaghetti dinner honoring his legacy, will be at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Cleary Alumni & Friends Center. The celebration will be held reminiscent of the end-of-season spaghetti dinner that Rollo and his wife, Kay, hosted in their home annually for his freshman teams.

The event follows UWL’s last regular season home game against UW-Eau Claire at 3 p.m., which will feature a halftime presentation highlighting the Rollo Taylor Endowment Fund and the new freshman basketball award. Prior to the game, the annual alumni game is at noon. Both are in Mitchell Hall. Tickets are available at the door.

Admission to the dinner is $25; RSVP is required by Feb. 17. The dinner will offer time for former players, assistant coaches, students, UWL colleagues and community friends to share stories of how Rollo touched their lives. Many of Rollo’s family plan to attend the game and celebration. Get details at: https://www.uwlax.edu/go/rollo/.

To donate directly to the fund, email foundation@uwlax.edu or visit https://www.uwlax.edu/foundation/?fund=donation-gen-1. Under Area of Interest, select Athletics. Under Gift Designation – Under Endowments – select Men’s Basketball (Taylor Fund).

Rollo Taylor

Rollo Taylor at UWL

• Student-athlete from 1952-56, lettering in basketball and cross country.
• Graduated in 1956; returned in 1965, coached until 1986 and taught until 1991.
• Achieved a 212-66 coaching record, including a 7-1 record as interim varsity head coach.
• Mentored countless students and helped many find their first teaching and coaching jobs.
• Entered into the UWL Wall of Fame, Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
• Community recognition included the Boys & Girls Club Wall of Fame and 1999 Oktoberfest Festmaster.