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Dominican basketball player starts in feature film

Director John Grooters saw natural talent in DeRoo despite never having taken acting classes. Credit:

By: Samantha Sanchez, Managing Editor

Dominican University freshman Taylor DeRoo is making his big-screen movie debut on Friday, February 25 in The Frontier Boys. The independent film, directed by John Grooters, follows four high school friends whose friendship is put to the test after a drive-by shooting.

The film draws interesting parallels to DeRoo’s own life. He plays a character named TJ Lewis, a Christian high school basketball star who ends up hurt and in the hospital after the shooting.

DeRoo suffered a cardiac arrest in 2008 while playing basketball for his high school team in Holland, Michigan. He was revived after 30 minutes of resuscitation and was in a coma for two days following. When DeRoo woke he was told he wouldn’t be able to play basketball again. He was back on the court a year later.

“I swear I have the best or worst luck,” DeRoo said. “Two years ago I was there and now I’m here.”

DeRoo says his number one passion has always been and will always be basketball, but considers filming The Frontier Boys one of the greatest experiences of his life.

This was DeRoo’s first actual foray into acting; he had never done theatre or taken an acting class before. He was recommended to the director by a mutual friend and needed some convincing before deciding to participate in the film.

The one-month shoot was not an easy feat for DeRoo, who was a senior in high school at the time. A typical shooting day consisted of going to school all afternoon, followed by basketball practice and, finally, the four-hour ride to the filming location where they would shoot from midnight until around 4:30 am.

His strenuous work is already paying off. The Frontier Boys opened in Grand Rapids, Michigan to positive reactions from DeRoo’s family and friends. The Dove Foundation has reviewed the movie, describing it as a “compelling story” and a “powerful drama.” The movie doesn’t open in Illinois until Friday, but there is already interest from the friends DeRoo has made at Dominican, including his teammates.

“Most of the guys on the team know about it and want to see it,” DeRoo said. “They pick on me a little bit, but it’s all in fun. They support me.”


There are a lot of things DeRoo wants to do in the future. He describes himself as almost “too ambitious.” He is majoring in business, but would ideally like to be playing professional basketball overseas or look into more acting opportunities when he graduates. Whatever path he chooses, his family, friends and teammates at Dominican will support him.

“He is a very hard worker, very coachable, a supportive and caring teammate, and a responsible person who can be counted on,” said Sam Hargraves, assistant coach of the men’s basketball team. “ He has also taken on a leadership role in a small-group Bible study on campus. I see him becoming a leader on our basketball team and within other areas of the Dominican community in the future. If he ever makes it big as an actor, he better donate some of that money back to Dominican!”


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