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Drive, Heart, Motor: The Essence of Taylor Soule

Boston College women’s basketball star Taylor Soule ('22) hopped on the Zoom call, beaming even after a travel day, and spent the next 45 minutes demonstrating why she has such a powerful presence on and off the court. The senior forward radiated energy through the computer screen, gamely answering questions about her time ahead, the future of the sport, and the last four years at BC as the women’s basketball team has rebuilt towards the NCAA tournament.

Soule wasn’t always a basketball star—or at least, basketball wasn’t always the sport she thought she would end up playing in college and beyond. “I grew up playing sports. Started with track, soccer, karate, gymnastics... and basketball was just in there. I played it a little bit after school and stuff, but it wasn’t until 7th or 8th grade where I was trying to play either basketball or soccer in high school.”

Luckily for Eagles’ fans, “When I was a freshman in high school—I went to Kimball Union Academy, in Meriden, New Hampshire—and that’s where I went to an All-Star game and got recruited to play for the Mass Rivals. That was the first time where there were girls that went to Ohio State, UConn, really good talent. We went places like North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia. That was the first time that I played real, competitive basketball in front of coaches and was like, ‘this is kinda a cool thing to do.’”

Playing with the Mass Rivals eventually led Soule to Boston College, although the senior admits her answer for "Why Boston College" has changed in the four years she’s been here. Reflecting back, Soule found it hard to explain what her 18-year-old self was thinking when she committed to Boston College. The best she could guess was that it was close to home and one of her best friends lives in Boston, giving her even more of a support system within the city.  

When it comes to pre-game strategies, wearing No. 13, Soule “tries not to get too superstitious, because if I end up doing that and something goes wrong or I don’t do it, then I’m like, ahhh. I’m very much go with the flow—let me wear two different colored shoes, let me wear one leg sleeve, let me do something else with my hair.” Soule’s only requirement pre-game is to be on the court twenty minutes before tip-off. Everything else before that revolves around calming down her heart rate to avoid early fouls in a game.

Laughing, Soule explained the story behind her being No. 13, despite most people considering it a superstitious number. She started the story a couple times, trying to piece together how Marnelle Garraud somehow beat her to the numbers and claimed No. 14 before she could. Soule committed to Boston College first, but the two scored 1,000 points on the same day, and both players wore No. 14 in high school. How Soule tells it is that, “I was like, we’re gonna be great friends. And they were like, ‘what numbers do you guys want to wear?’ And she said, ‘14’ and I was like, ‘well, this is super awkward. We just met each other so let me just take 13.'”

“People either say it’s a lucky or unlucky number, but I say it's lucky. Even if it’s unlucky, it’s who wears it,” Soule declared forcefully. “I love it. It’s a cool number. Anyone who wears 13 has a chip on their shoulder… and I definitely have a chip on my shoulder.”

That chip on her shoulder has allowed Soule to rack up the accolades throughout her collegiate career, including reaching 1,000 points this year and being named to the All-ACC second team. She didn’t mention any of that in her interview though, emphasizing that basketball is a team sport.

“Basketball is a team sport, so play it for those around you,” Soule stated succinctly when asked about her philosophy. “When you start to play it for yourself and individual accolades, your teammates can feel that. Go out there and have a why. Your why doesn’t always have to be rah-rah-rah for my team, but if it’s not the second or third thing that you’re thinking about, then, my coach always says: ‘you should go play tennis.’”

Soule lives by that philosophy, which can be seen in how she views her role on the team. “My role on the team is a leader by example. I pride myself on being a leader for the people, not for myself. I’m a big talker, yes, it helps me out with what I’m doing,” she explained, “But at the end of the day, if I can be someone with the most energy, a shoulder to lean on—one, it’ll obviously help me because I’m doing my job. But if it can help out some of the freshmen, if it can make them feel supported—that’s my biggest role now.”

Being a leader revolves around not being a hypocrite—that’s the biggest lesson Soule has learned in her four years. “I know my teammates will never listen to someone who’s telling them to do something that they don’t do.” That knowledge has changed how she has approached her role this year. Instead of approaching every game by giving 100% effort, Soule now considers if “I’m doing [these things] in the right way? Am I doing them in a way that I’m still being coachable? Or am I just trying to be the absolute best and kinda say ‘to heck with everyone else?’”

When asked specifically about her greatest strength, Soule answers that it’s her heart and go-getterness. In basketball terms, she would say her defense, which comes from “[her] heart. I want to win—I’ll do anything to do that. I want to be there for my teammates, my coaches, myself, for the program.” She paused for a moment before assertively declaring her next statement: “I’m pretty positive I have the highest motor of any player to play the game of basketball. I don’t care if my legs are hurting, I don’t care if I’m having a bad day, you probably won’t hear about it. As long as we win, that’s really all that matters.”

But if she could steal an attribute from a teammate's game, Soule would steal the ability to shoot a three from either Makayla Dickens or Cam Swartz. “Makayla Dickens—the fastest release of any shooter I’ve ever seen. I can shoot a three if I have to, but their natural ability—they work hard… To shoot and make a three… that’d be great.”

But Soule is more than just a basketball player—and she’ll be the first one to tell you that. Although her ratio of athlete to student falls to a 70% to 30% ratio, she doesn’t limit the student-athlete label to just academic and basketball activities.

“When I think of student-athlete, I think of it more of like a whole. I’m part of some groups on campus—DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), also SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee)—and that’s given me the ability to speak up on racial injustices or mental health issues or who I am as a person, who I want to be. It’s given me the ability to be known, not just as a student-athlete on campus, but also as someone who has a personality, is caring, is responsible, wants to lend a helping hand, do community service, and be a leader not just on my team, but in the classroom.”

That commitment to being a complete person, teammate, and student shines through in the name, image, and likeness (NIL) endorsements that Soule has taken on. Student-athletes have only been able to benefit from NIL deals within the last year, making it a relatively new avenue for showcasing personalities and allowing individual athletes to pair up with causes they care about. Soule agrees that these deals open up another avenue for players to break out of the “student-athlete” box and showcase their personalities, making individuals seem more like people than stereotypes.  

Soule has partnered with Stackwell, a corporate company in Boston. “[Stackwell’s] goal is to reduce the racial wealth gap in Black communities,” she explained. “Things like that, things that align with what I’m passionate about are the biggest things I’m taking away from this change in college sports. I opened up a clothing line called Heart & Soule, which is partnered with Boston Elite Basketball. With them, I’ll be running camps and clinics.” These opportunities became possible with the new NIL rules.

As a senior, Soule has one eye on the future and one on the past. “I definitely want to see what I can do at the next level. I think the next steps are definitely to try to make it to the next level and just seeing where it plays out from there.”

But before the future can come, she is focused on the ACC tournament and hopefully March Madness. “The ideal outcome is that our name gets called and we’re headed to the Big Dance.” Soule laughed, “I was telling my team, jokingly, if that happens, I don’t even care how many games we win because it’s for the legacy and the history of BC. From there it’s just play.”

Though the Big Dance isn’t the only legacy Soule wants to leave behind. When asked about legacy, she chose not to define herself in purely basketball terms. Instead, “when somebody five years down the line says your name, you want them to say it with a smile on their face.” Soule wants people to remember her for her heart, for being caring, for making things better for everybody—none of which are contained on the basketball court or in the classroom.

Soule and the No. 8 seeded Eagles take on No. 9 seeded Florida State in the ACC tournament on Thursday, March 3 at 2pm to start their postseason and make a run at advancing the school’s basketball legacy.

Thank you, Taylor Soule, for your time, as well as your thoughtful and passionate answers!

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