**Over the next series of posts, we’ll do our part to breakdown the career of one of Penn State’s greatest athletes**
As the practice gym at the Bryce Jordan Center began to empty it was clear that the few hundred or so ticket holders who watched the Nittany Lions practice hadn’t distracted a senior filled team. Jerseys laid on chairs drying, Gatorade bottles filled an already overflowing garbage can, and the trainers table was covered in bandages from a physical practice. If anything could be taken from the day, it was that this team wasn’t going down without a fight.
The lights dimming around the court gave off a Hoosier style glow as people continued to leave the room. Suddenly we were no longer in a modern day arena but in some high school gym where all that mattered were your fundamentals. No one would ever see your highlight reel from in here,no one would know what sneakers you wore, all that mattered was how you played the game. It was basketball in it’s purest form, just you the hoop and the ball.
Almost on cue a door opened, light shining back onto the court reminding us all where were again. As the door shut a single person came through breaking the beam of light, ball in hand. The squeaking of a single pair of sneakers was audible through the now mostly empty room. The dribble of a single ball, the emptiness of a shot, and the sweet swish of nylon.
It was the sound that so few people ever hear, and even less appreciate. The sound of the hard work and effort behind one of the greatest players to ever put on the blue and white and play for Penn State. Standing a few feet behind the three-point line Talor Battle had come back out of the locker room and was shooting his patented long range shot. Each a copy of the last, never too far, never too short.
As Battle brought his arms back each time to release the next shot the irony couldn’t have escaped him. He has been one of the best players in the best basketball conference in the nation for the past four years. At the same time, he’s been one of the best kept secrets in the country. While Battle, who is always focused on team and family first, has never asked for recognition, watching his former AAU teammate Jimmer Fredette excelling at BYU has been a friendly reminder of how national perception can shape a career.
For Battle, he remains quite the juxtaposition in regards to college basketball, a talented player who finds himself kept out of the spotlight based off of wins and losses. Not to suggest that his teammates are less passionate about winning. It’s quite the opposite as you may not find a more determined roster in the athletic department, but the wins and losses speak for themselves. Ultimitally the greatest snub in Battle’s career will not be missing an opportunity to dance, but that his nationally legacy will be written by numerical values over his ability to play the game. Our obsession with winning has often tainted our ability to see the drama and life behind sports, Battle would not be the first athlete to fall victim to such things and will undoubtedly not be the last.
But Talor Battle isn’t concerned about his legacy, he’s concerned about his form..