February RRC Scholar-Athlete: Taylor Powell|
Feb. 3, 2014
By Kayla Curry
Taylor Powell, infielder for the Texas Tech softball team, has used her small town roots and determination to find the key to being a successful student-athlete.
The senior Red Raider grew up in Henrietta, Texas. Although there were not a lot of opportunities for sports in the town, where the local rodeo is as big as Christmas day, Powell's support system helped her follow her increasing love for the game.
"I grew up in a very rural community," Powell said, with a deep-rooted, Texas accent. "I was so blessed to have had family and friends who really helped me get in to it and get involved."
As Powell's love for her childhood hobby continued to grow, she quickly noticed that she was outgrowing her current softball team. With the help of her family and friends, she let her drive and willpower take her further out to larger cities until she eventually ended up playing for Texas Fusion, a travel team in the DFW Metroplex.
During her time on Texas Fusion, Powell made a connection with head softball coach for the Red Raiders, Shanon Hays. That connection is what brought Powell to Lubbock.
"At the time, he was in need for the position which I was being recruited," Powell said. "It was really a God-given blessing."
Powell said the process of being recruited was different for her than it is for many athletes today.
"I was somewhat late in the recruiting process," she said, "especially in comparison to the ones we see now, that are committing their sophomore or junior years. I didn't commit until I was I senior, so I was very blessed."
Powell made the move from a town of a little over 3,000 and just one stoplight to a school with over 33,000 students and a nationwide spotlight. Despite the change, Powell said she has loved her time at Tech.
"It's been a great experience," Powell said. "Obviously college ball is so much different than anything else you've ever gone through, just the mental aspect of being on a national stage. That's something, especially where I'm from, that's not very common. It's been such an awesome feeling to be here and be a part of it. It's really been a big part of my life."
Hays enjoys having Powell as a part of his team just as much as she does.
"She's just so well rounded," Hays said. "She's just good at everything. I think it's very unique how she excels at everything she does in her strength and conditioning, in her work ethic on the field, her personality. Then, of course, academically speaking, she's amazing."
It is no surprise that Hays raves about his athlete with a 4.0 cumulative GPA in her senior year.
The animal science major believes her academic success has come from picking a major related to her background, where she learned to ride a horse before she could walk.
"I grew up showing cattle and riding horses," Powell said. "It was just the path for me to take. That career field, the kind of people you come in contact with, it's what I grew up with. It's what I'm very comfortable with."
Powell's academic achievements led to her accepting a handful of academic honors from a variety of different groups.
"I've been very fortunate," Powell said. "I've received some Big 12 honors. I've received a few here through the Tech organization. Including the agricultural part of it, I was inducted in to the agricultural honor society, so that's been a huge honor and a privilege."
Powell's secret to success as a student-athlete is a mix of sheer determination and help from others.
"The big key word there is discipline," Powell said. "We're very lucky here at Tech. I've been very fortunate with my professors that understand the demands of the sport and our travel schedule. They've been very courteous in working with me on that."
Although Powell has been very successful during her time as a Red Raider, she still has her sights on some big goals during her final semester as a student-athlete.
"As far as softball goes, I think we have so much potential on our team," Powell said. "Everybody says we're young, and we are, but we have so much talent. I hope we can come through and really make a statement in the Big 12. I would really like to come out and show them where we are at in our conference and where we can be on a national level."
After Powell graduates in May 2014, she plans to get back to her roots and use her degree in animal science as she has already applied to Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M's veterinarian schools.
After four years of getting to know and work with Powell, Hays has full confidence that she has a bright future ahead of her.
"I expect Taylor to be successful in everything she does," Hays said, "because she has such a great work ethic and again she's such a strong person from the inside out. I expect her to help a lot of people and be somebody that her family and friends can count on."