sophomore Nolan Taylor of men's basketball recently took part in the WCC
Leadership Summit recently hosted by Pepperdine. After the strong
presentations, healthy discussion and debate, he shares with us his experience
at the conference and reflects on his freshman year results that will help him
for this upcoming season:
Q: Besides keeping busy with basketball, you recently took part in the WCC Leadership Summit at Pepperdine. What was that like?
A: The leadership summit was a great experience. As a conference we got to come together and create a family atmosphere. It was unique because I was building special bonds and relationships with people that I will be competing against. This summit was important because life is much bigger than bouncing a ball or competing in your respective sport. Life is about changing the world we live in for the betterment of those around us and creating lifelong healthy relationships.
Q: What kind of things did you do at the summit?
A: During the summit we had sessions where we would have JT Thoms from Growing Leaders and Timothy Alexander from UAB, teach us leadership techniques and different ways that we can not only make our team and program better, but mainly how we can impact the lives of many people by being what you want to see and stepping out of our comfort zones. This means making our teammates' problems and universities' problems, our personal problems. Why not conquer and find solutions together? We also did a community service activity where we picked up trash at the beach. In addition, we got the opportunity to personally ask questions to the commissioner of the WCC, which was an eye-opening experience.
Q: What was the most important thing you learned from the summit?
A: There were so many things that I learned, so I cannot pick a favorite. However, there was a question that made me do a lot of self-reflection. The question was, "What are you doing with your influence?" As athletes we are blessed with God-given talents and we are given an elevated platform. It is essential for us to realize that this platform is not about our title, it is about our influence and what we do to add value to the places life takes us. I learned that although basketball has developed me into the man I am today, I want my impact to outline my life, so that I am known for more than solely basketball.
Q: What was the most memorable part of the summit?
A: The most memorable part was listening to Timothy Alexander talk about his life that was full of adversity. From a wheelchair, he gathered a group to fight and bring back the UAB football team, rowing team and rifling team. He was just a complete inspiration to listen to and it was unbelievably astonishing to see what he made out of the many difficult circumstances life threw at him.
Q: Now back to basketball, you had quite an impressive freshman year. Can you tell us what it was like playing in 24 of 31 games and starting 20 games your freshman year? Did you expect to play and start in that many games?
A: The season was full of struggles. As a team we were in a constant battle with injuries, which made it very difficult to stay positive at times. Personally, I did not know what to expect when I came back after missing a few games, but Coach Wilson trusted in my process of recovering and getting into game shape. However, my main goal was to help the team in any way that I could. Some games it was rebounding, sometimes it was guarding a dominant big in our league and other games I needed to score. It was a blessing to get that experience leading into this upcoming year.
Q: What was the most important thing you learned from your freshman year that you will use for next season?
A: The most important thing I learned this season was to find the good in every situation and season of life both on and off the court. I am honestly thankful for last season because it helped me continue to positively build my character and also forced me to battle through adversity. I truly realized the importance of having a mindset of perseverance and gratefulness.
Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve for this upcoming season?
A: My primary goal is to be able to be a more versatile defender. I want to be able to guard all positions. I also want to be a more dominant scorer while shooting a higher percentage from the rest of the field than last year.
Q: What can fans expect this season?
A: Fans can expect the most athletic Pepperdine team in a long time. We will be a very high-energy team that is hungry and ready to win the conference championship.
Q: What are you working on this summer to prepare for this upcoming season?
A: This summer I have been working on having quicker feet, getting faster and more athletic. I have also been working on my shot and ball-handling every day.