20 Questions Vol. III: Neresa Taylor

Neresa Taylor for UTEP

This is our third installment of 20 Questions.  Next up, Neresa Taylor (‘Reese”).  Neresa is currently the Director of Girls Training for Gusher United, the competitive arm of Beaumont Youth Soccer Club.  She graduated from UTEP with a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and participated on the UTEP soccer team for the duration of her college career.  She continued with soccer after her time at UTEP and still makes soccer a part of her daily life.  You can read her bio here.  In her words, meet Reese Taylor…

1.  Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas.

2.  When did you start playing soccer?

I started playing soccer as early as I can remember, probably age 3 or 4.

3.  How often did you play soccer as a youth?

I played soccer every day but Sunday. I played during recess at school, after school, and directly after I went to practice. On Sundays I had to put on my church dress. No t-shirts and shorts! My mother spent countless time getting me ready for church and family lunch on Sundays that getting dirty and sweaty was not an option. I could not wait until Monday came….

4.             What teams/organizations did you play for?

I played here locally at BYSC (“Beaumont Youth Soccer Club”) as a youth and then competitively for Spindletop Select Soccer Club (“SSSC”). I also played for the Olympic Development Program and for my local high school–Kelly High School.

5.             Did you play sports other than soccer? If so, did you at any time decide to specialize in soccer (and quit playing other sports)?

Growing up I ran track and also played basketball. I played all three sports throughout middle school but once I entered high school I focused on soccer mainly but still ran track to stay in shape. Once I got to college, it was all soccer.

6.             What position(s) did you play? What is your favorite position?

From ages 9- 18, I was a forward. I loved scoring goals. Once I entered college my coach discovered I should play defense. This was shocking and I found myself wanting to quit because scoring goals was all I knew and I loved being the show of the game.  After realizing if I wanted to play I would have to play what my coach wanted me to, I quickly changed my attitude and started adjusting to playing defense. As of now, I would prefer playing outside back any day over forward. Crazy how things work out.

7.             At what age did you specialize in a certain position?

I believe between the ages of 13- 15, I remember thinking I was a forward and that’s what I would always be.

8.             As a youth player, who influenced your playing style?

Jorge Cruz was a huge contributor to the player I became. He made the game fun and enjoyable, but also pushed me to learn the game and play the correct way.  Jorge never allowed me to stay content as a player.  If he saw that I could dribble through three players, he would encourage me to take on four. He helped me develop as an individual player to be creative and forced me to work hard without even realizing I was putting in effort.

9.             What was the highlight of your youth soccer experience?

The highlight of my youth soccer career would be making the Olympic Development team. I remember going to the tryout thinking that I was just doing it for fun but once I made the first round I recall thinking I could do it. After the first round I put my mind to it and worked harder than ever. As a young player from Southeast Texas it was a huge achievement that I will never forget.

10.          Did you play soccer in college? If so, where?

Yes, I played soccer at the University of Texas at El Paso all four years of my college career.

11.          Did you participate in sports in college other than soccer?

In college, soccer was night and day. Between 6:00 a.m workouts, class from 8:00 a.m to noon, team meetings at 1:00 p.m, and practice from 3:00 to roughly 6:30, I had limited time to do anything but homework and sleep. Not to mention jumping on a plane Thursday morning and flying to different states; it was very challenging to even keep up with school only attending class Monday- Wednesday in the fall semester. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it.

12.          What is your favorite cartoon?

Unfortunately, I do not watch cartoons. haha! If I had to choose one, however, it would be…. Spongebob!

13.          What is your preferred coaching philosophy? (Possession, counter, winger, defensive, etc.)

I believe it depends on the team I am training. For my younger players I teach possession. I believe if an individual player has the skills and technique to keep possession, they can later adapt to any style of play because their skills will develop through learning to keep possession.

14.          Did you play soccer after college?

Yes, I played in the WPSL (Women’s Professional Soccer League) which is directly under the actual WPS. After graduating college, I played semi-pro in Miami and loved it!!

15.          What was the highlight of your adult soccer career?

Wow, there’s too many!! I would say my fondest memories as a college player were being with my teammates on game day. It is indescribable being in a setting with twenty other passionate, dedicated, and competitive girls. As a youth, half the team loved the game and half just did it for leisure or because their parents force them. Once you enter Division 1 College Soccer, every player has the same attitude and goals. Friday night games at our University were insane. We would have 1,500 plus fans scattered around our fields.  I cherished each time I walked onto that field and can never forget beating SMU, Texas, Texas Tech, and Baylor.

16.          Your favorite movie is _____?

I have a lot of movies that I enjoy but one of my all time favorites is Blind Side.

17.          Favorite food?

I love Seafood. The one downfall about moving to El Paso was the enormous change I had to make in garnering a taste for Mexican food.

18.          In 10 years, you plan to be ______?

God willing in 10 years I will be a wife and mother. I plan to be doing the same thing I am today but with my own children. I loved playing soccer myself but I feel my true joy will come from watching my own children play and develop as players. I have high hopes if I have a daughter that she will play soccer and achieve greater than what I did!

19.          Other than soccer, your favorite hobby is ____?

I LOVE shopping! Friday is my one off day so that is the day I actually get to dress up, get my nails done, and not wear soccer gear. I enjoy going to church and serving the Lord.  I also love watching other sports and spending time with my family as well.

20.        Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspiration has been my parents. My mother passed away when I was 12 years old and my father took on the role of being my mother and father. I look up to those two who have made me the strong woman I have become. Ironically, soccer has helped me through my toughest times. I remember when my mother passed all I knew, trusted, or believed in was soccer. Late nights when I could not understand why, I would sneak out and bang the soccer ball against the wall to exhaust myself. Soccer was my outlet and unknowingly I was becoming better as a player while doing this.

I sent Reese a follow up question about advice that she would give youth interested in playing college soccer.  Here is what she had to say:

Advice I would give to anyone considering playing college soccer would first be to love the game. I believe to be successful in anything there has to be a sense of passion behind it, that passion then fuels you and drives you to become better as a player. If you love the game, becoming better is easy. It is easy because you WANT to go to practice, you want to always have a ball at your feet, and you want to play when no one else is watching. These elements will unknowingly take you to the next level. Hard work and dedication are what collegiate athletes are made of. You have to eat, breathe, and sleep soccer in college, which if soccer is what you love, then one could call that the perfect world.  As a former student athlete I’ve witnessed my teammates plus opponents attitude and how they function as people; there’s an overdose of competitiveness built within them to train hard, become better than those around them, and also a willingness to compete against themselves and set goals as a player.  This, however, is what a player has accumulated before he or she enters college. Your mind is your best friend, believing you can do something and putting in the effort to achieve what you set your mind too will bring you anywhere you wish to go in life. As a youth player set goals for yourself, challenge your own ability, and never stay content. If you are never satisfied with where you are as a player, you will force yourself to grow and develop beyond where you were. At the end of the day love and enjoy what you do, have fun and put in the work, the rest will handle itself.


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