By TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – There is no question that leadership is one of the top qualities that coaches search for from their student-athletes every single day. To have the ability to look a team in eyes, garner everyone's attention, and know they value what that person has to say is a skill just as much as any athletic ability that leads to the highlight reels fans live for.
Tennessee Tech volleyball sophomore Olivia Taylor has shown off her leadership skills all year, going beyond even the small circle of the volleyball team and expanding toward all Golden Eagle student-athletes. On top of providing a critical voice off the bench for the volleyball team, Taylor serves as the President of Tech's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, constantly looking for ways to better the experiences of every student-athlete competing in the purple and gold.
"Olivia currently serves as SAAC President and takes her job very seriously," Tech head coach Jeannette Phillips said. "She relays all information back to our team in order to keep them all involved. She genuinely believes in creating the best experience possible for all student-athletes. Liv is also a wonderful teammate on the volleyball team. She does not find playing time often, but she embraces her role and lifts her teammates up with her enthusiasm."
Taylor can constantly be found leading all sorts of creative cheers, chants, and celebrations with her fellow teammates while the Golden Eagle starting lineup competes on the court, never worrying about if or when she may see the floor. Instead, she has channeled even more into her role as a key source of energy and encouragement. A libero, defensive specialist, and serving specialist, Taylor has also made the most of her opportunities when called upon, assisting Tech to a 10-match winning streak.
"When we lost a couple of matches, Liv came to me asking how she could do more on the bench to help keep our team culture positive and how she could lift up her teammates that were on the court," Phillips explained. "She did not ask for more playing time even though she would love to have it, but she wants to control what she can control and do anything she can do for her teammates."
Beyond the court, Taylor pours just as much of herself into her role as SAAC President, running the group's meetings and helping organize and orchestrate a number of events and community service opportunities for her fellow student-athletes. Constantly looking for ways to improve herself, but more importantly, the atmosphere and experiences other Golden Eagles live through day-to-day, Taylor has proven to be an exceptional leader not just for the volleyball team, but the Athletics Department as a whole.
"As a coaching staff, we are constantly asking our players to go 'all in' and let the cards fall where they may," Phillips expressed, "and Olivia Taylor is a great example of what that looks like. Whether she is in practice, in a match setting, or leading the SAAC on campus, she pours her everything into it. In life, you need to find people that make you feel better about yourself and try to surround yourself with others that make you feel safe to make mistakes. Liv does this for so many and I don't believe she even knows the effect she has on them. She is a wonderful leader and a very valuable part of our family. She makes us proud every day and she always puts a smile on our faces."
It is for these qualities and dedication that Taylor is the recipient of the 2022 October Unsung Leader Award.
The Unsung Leader Award is selected from student-athletes, who have been nominated by their coaching staff, for exemplifying outstanding leadership qualities during a given month. The leadership can be shown on the field, in the weight room, at practice, in the classroom, in study hall, on campus, in the community, or for a student club or organization.
The award honors a varsity student-athlete who has made a positive impact on their team and the Tennessee Tech community as a whole, through his or her dedication to demonstrating leadership traits, such as:
- Keep learning, growing, and improving
- Follow through with excellence
- Accomplish more than expected
- Inspire and motivate others
Photo by Emily Armstrong