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‘I’ve been lucky enough to be able to call my teammates my best friends off the court as well’: A Q&A with Boston College Women’s Basketball Star Taylor Soule

NCAA Basketball: ACC Tip Off Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

During the Boston College Women’s Basketball season opener, Taylor Soule solidified herself in BC Athletics history, becoming only the 29th player in the program to reach 1000 points. Soule is BC’s player to watch this year, as she’s entering her highly anticipated senior season after coming off of three super successful years with the Eagles. She’s been named to the Cheryl Miller Award watchlist to start the season, an award recognizing the top small forwards in women’s NCAA D1 basketball.

Last season, Soule finished seventh in the ACC in scoring, led the Eagles in points scored, and led the team in total minutes played, despite the shortened and frequently-interrupted season due to the pandemic. In two games this year, she has 19 and 21 points respectively and is already leading the team in scoring.

In addition to being an elite basketball player, Soule is also involved in Eagles for Equality and a DEI committee within athletics, dedicated to making the BC community a better and more inclusive place for all.

We sat down with Taylor last week to talk about her time at BC so far, the WNBA, activism, and more!

To start off — why did you choose BC?

I chose BC — I’m originally from New Hampshire so about two and a half hours north of BC. And I have friends and family in the area and so choosing BC was nice just because it wasn’t too far from home. I [have] people around me if I ever need anything. It’s great academics and I knew I’d have academic help, which is really important to me because I knew I’d have a busy schedule. And then just being able to play in the ACC was definitely a plus — basketball wise BC has great history, but we have been on the bottom end of a lot of preseason polls and so to be able to go to school, get a great education and then also try to get BC back talking in national conversations was definitely something I wanted.

You’ve really thrived as a player under Coach Mac; can you talk about what she and her coaching staff brought to the program?

I think what they brought is just fresh new energy. The old coaching staff, they were great. They’re great people, but I think Coach Mac, she has a history of winning coaching at Maryland and won a championship over there — and her coaching staff, they just want what’s best for the players, I think they want to get BC back to the national level. And so for me, I’m a player that I like to be coachable. I like to win obviously. And so they just everyday try to get the best out of every player. They’re going to push you, they’re not always going to be giving you just like soft love, they’ll give you tough love but I think they really just push all of us to get to that high level.

Your team is notably really close off the court as well — how do you help foster that as one of the upperclassman leaders?

Yeah, I think for me, it’s always come easily because when I came in there were eight freshmen and we had no seniors at the time, but we had a great group of three upperclassmen and so just ever since freshman year, we’ve always been really close. And so I think now we have five seniors and so we kind of understood what it was like to be a freshman, to have that family and sisterhood feel off the court and it definitely helps when the season gets going. You’re busy with classes, you’re missing home, and [sometimes] basketball itself isn’t always going to be easy. And so I think just having your teammates let it be your best friends and people you can go to, not just on the court is something that’s really important. And so for me, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to call my teammates my best friends off the court as well.

How do you balance the individual expectations the media places on you with the fact that you’re really a team player?

I think for me, I always just go back to my team. I’m somebody who — I hear what goes on around me and I definitely give myself a pat on the back if someone’s like trying to give me a compliment or whatnot, but I definitely don’t always like the praise. And I always just bring it back to my teammates and my coaches, because without any of them I would still be the little freshmen traveling all the time and not really understanding what’s going on. And so definitely just having people around me to one, humble me, but also [to] just remind me of the team goals we’re trying to reach.

Something that we saw last year was that the program hosted their first Black History Month game — are you comfortable talking about what that meant to you, and maybe what steps you hope to see BC take in the future?

I thought it was a great step in the right direction. Myself individually and then also I know some of my teammates are involved with things on campus. Eagles for Equality [is] one of them and that’s just like student-based, talking about mental health, talking about tough conversations, especially last year. A lot of us [were talking] during the summer with George Floyd. And so just having conversations with people either of the same race, [or] different race was something that I was always passionate about and I knew my coaching staff definitely wanted to make sure we felt comfortable and we felt supported. And so now I think it’s really nice to have had that game and kind of make that the new norm.

We [also have] the Breast Cancer Awareness game, but to have that and to talk about the history of BC athletes, or just people in our lives that have inspired us. I think it’s really important and I think it’s nice because obviously from my point of view, I just looked at BC like “athletics.” And so I think if athletics as a whole can kind of drive a lot of the narrative in those tough conversations about race, or whatever it may be, I think that’s really important. I hope BC outside of athletics kind of recognizes what we’re trying to do and sees the importance of it because BC isn’t just a one race university. I think everybody has a voice, everybody needs to be heard, [and] people need to listen. And so I think that game was really nice and I was proud of my team [for getting] the ball rolling on that and hopefully it can be something that other teams pick up in the future too.

Last year was tough, between COVID starts & stops and not reaching the tournament level like the team likely would have if the 2019-20 season hadn’t been cut short. Can you talk about the team’s goals heading into this year?

Yeah, I think last year was a little bit of a bump in the road. It was difficult like we didn’t have the summer, we didn’t really have a smooth season at all. We were in and out of quarantine. So I think this year it was really nice to have summer workouts, [getting] the freshmen and even like the young sophomores who didn’t really have a regular season on the same page. Just moving forward, I think we have a really great group of girls who are going to work hard. And so just especially me being a senior, this is my last go around and so trying to have everybody have that mentality of like we need to be disciplined, we need to do “X, Y and Z” to win an ACC championship to make it to March Madness. I think that’s just a big focus is making sure everybody’s on the same page.

You touched on this earlier, but BC is often underestimated despite having lots of talent on the team and that’s reflected in a lot of preseason polls — how does that influence you all when you get out on the court?

I personally would rather play with a chip on my shoulder than maybe a target on my back. I think there’s definitely a balance you want. You want to have a target on your back because it means you’re doing something right. But I think for us right now, just every game [we’re] going out there with a chip on our shoulder, [whoever] we’re playing. We just played Harvard, we’re going to play Holy Cross this weekend — I think regardless of who the opponent is, people are going to talk and they’re going to say, BC isn’t this, BC has talent, but they’re not showing it in the win columns. And so I think just making sure again, those freshmen understand there are expectations that we are going to put on ourselves and we have to kind of block out that outside talk and just focus on what we’re trying to do and get to the top of the ACC.

Every player on the court made some impact on your win over Harvard - what kind of confidence does that give you guys as you head into the season?

I think it gives everybody a lot of confidence. I think there’s definitely some things we need to work on on the defensive end, but that will come as the season progresses. But I think for some underclassmen like Andrea Daley, JoJo Lacey, getting into the game and getting stops on defense or scoring on the offensive end [is] definitely a nice confidence booster, and then just [seeing] some of the hard work that we’ve been putting in translate into games and into wins. I think it’s going to be really important as we go into ACC play.

Can you talk about what it meant to you to hit your 1000th career point and become the 29th player in program history to do that?

I think it is still kind of sinking in, because I think a lot of like a good amount of players get 1000 points but to be only the 29th in BC history is kind of crazy. But I take a lot of pride in that and I think I said in an interview last week — about 90% of my baskets were probably off assists. And so it’s not just a milestone for me, it’s really just a thank you to all my teammates for helping me get there. But it definitely is something that I take pride in and when my time ends at BC it’s an accomplishment that I know I can look back [on] and be proud of myself for.

How do you think your game has improved most coming into your senior season?

I think senior season — just being a leader more on the court, but also realizing that I am a go-to scorer and so I need to be able to provide for my team on the offensive and defensive side of things. So definitely leadership-wise, making sure I’m helping out the underclassmen in whatever they’re doing but also not letting it take away from my game and realizing whether teams are double teaming me to give that extra pass also to continuously just be aggressive. Whether it’s driving to the basket, working on my mid range, working on my three point shot. I think that’ll be really important for me individually going into my senior season is just continuously stepping up my game offensively.

Are there any teammates that you’ve learned the most from over your time at BC so far?

I think I’ve learned a lot from all my teammates. It’s different things from different teammates, like Clara Ford — she’s come off the bench, she’s started, and she always has a positive mindset and so from her I just see whatever situations coming my way just to be positive, and give energy to my team. My roommate of four years, Makayla Dickens — absolutely love her and from her [I] learned to stand up for myself. And just from the rest of them, like from Marnelle Garraud from Cam Swartz — just to be able to trust the people around me and rely on them. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself and I think through them, I’ve learned to just have trust in those around me and that they’re going to have my back because they know I have theirs. And so I think just from all of them I’ve just learned how to be an even better friend, how to be an even better teammate, how to be a better listener, and those are definitely big things I take away from them.

Are there any WNBA players that you model yourself after, either as a player or as a leader off the court?

Off the court, I definitely look up to Natasha Cloud, she plays for the [Washington] Mystics and she is just authentically herself. She speaks up for what she believes in. She’s not afraid to like, “say the wrong thing.” I think she understands that people might not always like what she’s gonna say, but she’s gonna say it anyway because people need to hear it. And then on the court, I just know that she’s a great leader, and she works hard. And I think she went to St. [Joseph’s], she went to a lower D1 school and just to see somebody who wasn’t always in the media make it to the WNBA is something that I look up to because it isn’t easy to make it to the WNBA, to make a roster spot, to stay on a team; and so if she could do it, going from a school that wasn’t a Baylor, [that] wasn’t a UConn is inspiring.

WNBA players have really been at the forefront of social movements in sports, from BLM to reproductive health to voting to COVID vaccinations. What does it mean to you to be part of a sport with such a positive activist culture?

I think it’s really great. I think it just goes along the lines of more than an athlete. And I think when you have a platform, no matter if it’s five people listening, if it’s 100 people listening, 1000s of people listening, I think, especially as a woman, and for me a woman of color, it’s important to tell my story.

To me, it might just be like how I grew up, something that’s just regular to me, but if I can share something that someone else can relate to, and that can help them in a certain way. I think it’s really important and to see professional women athletes speaking up and using their voice and just showing the camaraderie between different teams is something that I think a lot of sports leagues need to take some notes.

There’s obviously people picking and choosing to do more than just a sport but I think just culture-wise and just image-wise I think the WNBA has done a great job — when people think about the WNBA, they just don’t think about basketball players. They don’t just think about winning championships. They think about playing basketball, being a great teammate, being a great leader. And then like what they can also do off the court.

There was a boost in viewers for the NCAA tournament last year, have you seen any changes in how people view women’s sports and women’s basketball in particular?

I think there has been some positive change. There’s always going to be people who say, “who cares about women’s basketball? I’m not going to watch women’s basketball because X, Y, Z.” And [it] is one of those things you kind of just have to shake it off because not everybody’s gonna be on your page. I think it’s important to recognize the people either small in your community, in your class, and then obviously nationwide who are all of a sudden supporting you who are buying apparel from the WNBA or watching women’s games, tuning in [and] posting about it.

I’m a part of the DEI committee — diversity, inclusion, equity — and we were having a town hall and one of the football players just straight up asked - he’s like, “I don’t know much about women’s basketball, or like women’s sports in general, but how can I help?” and I think it’s important for people who maybe realize that they don’t support women as much as they should to at least ask: “What can I do to help? Where can I start?” And I think that’s progression in itself that we haven’t seen in past years. And so I’m hoping — maybe it won’t be in my time — but in years to come. I hope the number of fans that we have at games starts to balance out. I just hope the viewership is continuing to go up and I hope that the conversations start to shift more towards the women’s side.

Women always take the backseat, and I think that’s another thing where if there are any human beings to like, pick this fight — and obviously we didn’t pick it —I think women are going to be the ones to make the change. It’s not our job to all of a sudden fix this. But I think just in history we’ve always been put on the backburner and told to do less. And I think women don’t really care. They’re like, we’re gonna go and I’m gonna do this. I’m going to make change and I don’t really care who’s going to say anything negative. I’m going to do it because it’s the right thing to do. So I hope in 10 years, 20 years, that women’s basketball is what they’re talking about on ESPN every time we turn it on, that’s what I hope.

Okay, now time for some fun questions!

Favorite thing(s) to do in Boston?

I’m a big outside person. I think just being outside in general in Boston, finding little nooks and crannies of either like the inner city [or] outskirts of the city, just different towns, there’s so much to offer. And so I think just to be in the city in general, driving, listening to music just in Boston, is something I really enjoy. And obviously the food — there’s such good food I think. Senior spring, I definitely want to get out into the city more and try to try some good food

Best memory as an Eagle so far?

My best memory as an Eagle so far, would probably have to be — I have so many and it’s like anytime I’m just with my team. Like last year, over my four years I’ve roomed with my teammates — freshman year, I was with two of them; sophomore year, we were in an eight-man; last year I was with them, and [now] this year. And I think just anytime I’m with my teammates. Last year, we were in quarantine in our room during the Super Bowl and just like me, Clara and Mikayla, we just had our own little Super Bowl in quarantine, hanging out playing Monopoly. And just like anytime that I’m just with my teammates on the road, anything like that is one of my favorite memories.

What song are you listening to on repeat right now?

Songs I’m listening to on repeat right now... I mean, I should say Taylor Swift but just haven’t gotten a chance to listen to her [yet]. I don’t have a specific song, but I’ve gotten really into either Indie or West Coast type of music. Like whether it’s like Six60 — that’s honestly an artist I’ve been listening to on repeat. It’s just like good vibes, like headphones in. That’s like the type of music I’ve been listening to on repeat.

Favorite off campus restaurant?

Well now I can’t think of a favorite! Because if I’m going for a restaurant that’s like a quick eat, me and my team go to Yamato on the way to BU. And it’s just like all you can eat, and that’s a great time we do all the time. Or Red Lantern in Boston is really good. They have duck buns, really good fried rice. Those are my two go-tos. [Red Lantern] has this edamame with some type of aioli, and I can eat just that the whole time. It’s so good.

Favorite dining hall meal at BC?

Screaming Eagle, I mean, super weird to say because they cook other things, but like I can never go wrong with a Screaming Eagle — I would do half chicken, half steak, teriyaki, some chipotle mayo, and then drizzle a little Doritos in there, because it just adds to the whole thing. That’s probably my favorite meal.

A huge thank you to Taylor for sitting down with us! (right after practice, too!) We are so excited to see everything she accomplishes with the WBB team this year and beyond.