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Women’s History Month Interview Series: Q&A With Team USA Softball Star Taylor Hoagland

by Bernadette Pasley | Posted on Monday, March 10th, 2014

After growing up in Texas, Taylor Hoagland took her softball talents to the University of Texas where she would become one of the most accomplished position players in school history. As a senior in 2013, Hoagland was named a first-team All-American. She has also spent the last three summers competing with the USA National Team. In addition to playing for Team USA, Hoagland is currently an assistant softball coach at Amherst College.

Taylor took some time to answer some questions for us at DoubleGSports.com as we continue our feature interviews in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Taylor Hoagland, Team USA. (Image used with permission)

Taylor Hoagland, Team USA. (Image used with permission)

1. Softball is obviously a huge part of your life.  How did your life on the diamond begin?

Well, it all started in my grandparents’ backyard when my grandpa bought me a pink and purple tee and ball set. Every time I would visit he would take me out back and roll me grounders upon grounders upon grounders and tell me how good I was (even though I’m pretty sure I was probably terrible haha).

2. What went into your decision to become a Texas Longhorn and what things do you remember most fondly when thinking about your college softball career?

The biggest selling point for me was the tradition and the family atmosphere that Coach Clark talked about. I am a HUGE family person, so that was very important to me to go somewhere where I was going to be a part of a family. The things I remember most about my college career…gosh there are so many…the highs, the lows, the wins, the losses…FINALLY making it to the Women’s College World Series my senior year was undoubtedly my proudest moment as a Texas Longhorn. Just being able to play a small part in getting the Texas program back to Oklahoma City where they belong was one of the biggest highlights of my career.

3. How exciting was it to be named to Team USA and what has that whole experience been like?

It was absolutely incredible. I mean obviously it’s every little girl’s dream to represent her country playing the sport she loves, but to actually be given that opportunity…it’s a once in a lifetime chance. As for the experience, it has been amazing. I’ve met so many wonderful people throughout my time on the USA team and have traveled the world, all while getting to play softball. How could you beat that?!

4. Is playing professionally something you’ve considered and why/why not?

Um…I mean of course I’ve thought about a handful of options I could have to continue my softball career, but I’m very happy with the place I’m in right now. I think if any softball player has the opportunity to keep playing, they should absolutely take advantage of it, no matter what avenue it may come from; softball doesn’t last forever.

A picture of Taylor as a young girl ready to begin playing softball.

A picture of Taylor as a young girl ready to begin playing softball.

5. On your blog over at WSN247.com you have been very outspoken about the salaries of female professional athletes and how they are so much lower than those of male professional athletes.  What do you think needs to be done to change this?

This subject has been on the table for many, many years. We can all sit around pointing the finger and discussing what should or shouldn’t be done, but at the end of the day unless someone does something different than what they are doing right now, nothing will ever change. Professional sports as a whole has become an outrageously paid profession, both on the men and women’s sides. I also find it very interesting that female athletes who play solo sports as opposed to team sports are more likely to have a higher salary. (Tennis, Golf and Swimming as opposed to Basketball, Soccer or Softball). I couldn’t pin point a reason why that is, I just find it very interesting. Sports are a business, and I completely understand that. Performance is your product, and in order to sell that product you need to

a)      Have a good product
b)      Market that product
c)       And lastly you have to know who your market is

At the end of the day, I just don’t feel like women’s professional sports are excelling in any of those areas.

6. How do you feel about the fact that the media’s coverage of women’s sports pales in comparison to that of men’s sports? Is there a solution to this problem?

Absolutely there’s a solution. Women’s sports need to get more coverage. In order to get more coverage, they have to give them a product worth covering. College sports are doing a great job of that right now, and hopefully women’s professional leagues will follow suit.

7. It goes without saying that the softball world was devastated by the news that the International Olympic Committee turned the sport down for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics. You didn’t agree with the fact that it was it was proposed with baseball as a package. Explain why, and how you would have proposed it differently.

I just feel that it hurt our chances of getting into the 2020 Olympics for the simple fact that the MLB was not supportive of USA Baseball in the sense that teams were not going to release their best players during the MLB season to participate in the Summer Olympics. And if the best of the best aren’t representing their respective countries, then what would be the point of putting it into the Olympics; ultimately the grandest stage for elite athletes. Also, while I do agree that there are some similarities between baseball and softball, I also believe that they are different games. The rules, strategies, mechanics, regulations, and the pace of games…the list could go on. So for them to pair up as one entity was slightly off-putting as a softball player. But our future is bright, so for now we are going to keep pressing on to get softball back in the Olympics where it so rightfully belongs.

8. What has your experience as an assistant coach at Amherst College been like?

I have loved every minute of it. It’s funny, every time a situation arises and I recall similar situations that happened during my time as a player, I text Coach Clark and tell her thank you haha. It’s so different being on the coaching side, but I also understand the game so much more as a player now. I appreciate the little things a lot more than I did as a player, and realize just how imperative they are to being successful on and off the field. I’ve also discovered patience. Lots and lots of patience ;)

9.  You turned a weight loss challenge between you and head coach Shannon Doepking into a social media initiative. Explain what #30DaysOfGreatness is all about.

The #30DaysOfGreatness Challenge was initially created for Shannon and I to get back into our workout routine without any excuses. It was very simple, 30 minutes of working out a day (or really just getting out and get moving), for 30 days. But then I realized that this could probably help others who were finding themselves in our same position as far as not having enough time, being bored with workouts, or being unable to find motivation to get moving. So we blasted it out on social media and it just caught on like wildfire. And now, there are people all over the place who have found themselves creating a new and healthier lifestyle for themselves through the online community that the #30DaysOfGreatness Challenge created.

10.  If you had a chance to be teammates with any softball player, active or retired, living or dead, who would she be and why?

That’s tough to narrow it down to just one person, because there were and are so many incredible players out there. But if I had to choose a specific team to be a part of, I would definitely pick the “Dream Team” of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That team was just the absolute epitome of softball. So many amazing players on one team, they were just unstoppable.

11. If you were to host a dinner with three women in sports (past or present) who would they be and why?

Oh that is totally easy. It would definitely be Abby Wambach (because I think she is just a ridiculous soccer player), Lisa Leslie (because she was one of the greatest female basketball players of all time), and LoLo Jones (simply because she is LOLO JONES).

Taylor as a member of the Texas Longhorns.

Taylor as a member of the Texas Longhorns.

 

Read all of our 2014 Women’s History Month Interviews already released, here.

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Bernadette contributes to DoubleGSports.com, covering softball and CUNY sports.
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Bernadette contributes to DoubleGSports.com, covering softball and CUNY sports.

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