|Taylor at home at Idaho|
By Kristen Koester-Smith, Idaho Athletics Media Relations
When Kelsey Taylor walked into Memorial Gym for her first practice as a University of Idaho volleyball player, the landmark building felt like home. As it should.
Taylor is a Vandal from birth. Not only did she grow up in Moscow but her parents are Idaho graduates, former student-athletes, and Vandal coaches. Like so many children in the area, it's a good bet the first word she spelled was I-D-A-H-O - the familiar chant of Vandal athletics.
These days, Kelsey is a stand-out senior on the UI volleyball team.
The story of this Vandal family began when Julie and Tim Taylor, Kelsey's parents, met during their time on the UI track team. They started dating during Julie's senior year and the rest is history. They decided to raise their children in Moscow, and were thrilled to watch Kelsey develop into an outstanding person, student, and athlete.
Julie, who currently is an assistant coach for the UI track team, said her daughter always strived to do her best in school and in athletics.
"She is kind of a perfectionist," Julie said.
Kelsey started playing volleyball in middle school and played throughout high school. During her senior year at Moscow High School, her varsity volleyball team went undefeated in the state. Kelsey also played basketball and ran track in high school, but she loved volleyball.
"Volleyball just felt the best," Kelsey said.
Kelsey said she started thinking about playing volleyball in college when she was in high school. Although Kelsey's parents had been Vandals, they encouraged her to choose a school that was right for her and didn't push her to follow in their footsteps. But Kelsey couldn't be kept from UI.
"I just love the campus and community here," Kelsey said.
Kelsey also said she wanted her parents to be able to watch her play volleyball, so she continued the line of Vandals in the family. Julie and Tim were extremely proud to see their daughter wear black and gold in her first college volleyball game.
"It meant a lot," Julie said.
Tim said he and his wife were very happy to stay close to their daughter. Tim always preached the importance of conditioning to Kelsey when she was younger.
"She might have rolled her eyes then," Tim said.
He was pleased to watch Kelsey buckle down in college and work to develop her strength to be competitive for Division I volleyball. Her freshman year, Kelsey won Idaho's Most Improved award.
As a middle blocker, Kelsey fights at the net, blocking the opposition and dishing out powerful kills. She competed against exceedingly talented players for playing time throughout her years as a Vandal, but she kept her in the lineup. In 2008, Kelsey was ranked first in the WAC for blocks in WAC games.
This year Kelsey was also recognized as a preseason WAC all-conference player. Tim said he was especially proud of his daughter for receiving this award, because it showed other coaches were impressed with Kelsey's talent and ability.
"It always feels good to win an award," Kelsey said.
Despite the large time commitment of playing a sport at a college level, Kelsey has maintained excellent grades. She was a WAC all-academic selection in 2008 and 2009. Julie said Kelsey accomplished this by expecting a lot of herself and being a good time manager.
"She understands how to meet deadlines," Julie said.
Julie noticed her daughter has become more outspoken and less shy during her college years. She said she is proud of Kelsey for always speaking her mind.
Because this is Kelsey's senior year, she will be moving on from Vandal volleyball soon. She said it would be exciting to keep playing, but the options for volleyball beyond the college level are few. She plans to get a degree in physical therapy at a school somewhere in the northwest.