Sports Stars Making a Social Impact: Why And How Soccer Pro Taylor Otto Is Helping To Change Our World
An Interview With Edward Sylvan
… The relationships you build with people are more important than anything. Obviously, we want to be successful and be the best in our respective sports but we only have that for so long and the people you meet and relationships you build are for a lifetime.
As a part of our series about sports stars who are making a social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Taylor Otto.
Taylor Otto is an American professional soccer player who plays as a midfielder for National Women’s Soccer League club, Racing Louisville. In 2021, Taylor was selected as the first pick of the second round (11th overall) of the NWSL Draft by Racing Louisville, and made her debut for the side later that year. Taylor is passionate about supporting the local Louisville community and is excited to partner with Quest to make a donation to nonprofit, Dare To Care, to help support their mission to lead their community in feeding the hungry and conquering the cycle of need.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to your career path in professional sports?
My parents got me involved in a lot of sports at a young age. I started playing soccer when I was 4 and fell in love with it immediately. I played basketball as well but ended up having to choose between the two going into high school if I wanted to pursue an athletic scholarship. I chose soccer and committed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill not long after. I played there for 5 years after redshirting my freshman year and was then drafted 11th overall in the 2021 NWSL draft.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What were the lessons or takeaways that you took out of that story?
The funniest/most interesting thing that occurred throughout my career is that I actually only visited one school in my recruitment process. I got injured and was unable to travel to visit the school I had planned to that weekend and ended up going to visit UNC instead. I committed that night, and when I look back on it, that probably wasn’t the smartest idea, but it ended up working out really well. A lesson I took away from this was to take risks and just go for it!
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
The advice I would give to a young person who wants to emulate my success is to work hard and be confident in the player/person you are! The one thing you can control is your work ethic so continuously put the time in to perfect all different aspects of your game, which can also lead to great self-confidence on the field.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I don’t have a specific story but Anson Dorrance had a huge impact on my life both on and off the field. He cultivated an environment at UNC that pushed players daily and that really helped me form a strong mindset going forward.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about what it is like being a professional sports player?
Being a professional athlete is a privilege and in my opinion one of the best jobs you can have because you get to wake up and do what you love everyday. With that being said, I think a myth that fans or non-athletes generally have is that it’s easy to perform at a high level consistently. There are many mental and physical challenges that professional athletes face that can often include a large amount of criticism. A lot of the time as a professional athlete, you correlate your success on the field with your worth as a person and I don’t think I realized how mentally tough you have to be until I was actually put in the environment.
Ok super. Let’s now move to the main part of our discussion. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
My success in the field has given me the opportunity to help the community around me and for that, I am very grateful. This year I donated $25,000 on behalf of Quest to Dare to Care, a local food bank in Louisville. I am extremely grateful that my partnership with Quest provided me the opportunity to help start my journey in making a difference in the community.
What methods are you using to most effectively share your cause with the world?
One of the most effective ways for me to share my cause with the world has been through social media. I post to the platform to inform people about what is going on in the community and how they can help!
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
I chose to work with Dare to Care because it is an important part of the Louisville community, and has close ties to our soccer club. During my rookie year, we had the opportunity to see and help with all the “behind the scenes” work that Dare to Care does to make sure that the people of their community are fed and taken care of. Those experiences really made me want to help in any way that I could and Quest gave me an incredible opportunity to help support Dare to Care.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
Through the generous donation that Quest so kindly provided, thousands of meals were able to be distributed to the people in the local Louisville community.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- It’s okay to fail. I think failure is often always seen as a bad thing but with failure can come a lot of learning and growth and ultimately lead to a lot of success later on down the road.
- The relationships you build with people are more important than anything. Obviously, we want to be successful and be the best in our respective sports but we only have that for so long and the people you meet and relationships you build are for a lifetime.
- Confidence is a good thing. I think a lot of times especially for females any form of confidence can be seen as cocky. But being confident in yourself and the work you’ve put in can really make a difference.
- It’s okay to be different. Everyone is unique in their own way and I think that is what is so special. Everyone can bring something different to the table on the field but also in life.
- Don’t take anything for granted. Being a professional athlete isn’t going to last forever so enjoy all the ups and downs of your journey.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would love to find a way to help people live a happy and successful life whether that be through equal opportunity or providing shelter and food.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
One of my favorite quotes is ”People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I love this because you can have absolutely everything and all the money in the world, but what is it worth if it’s just you? If you have a platform and the ability to help the people around you and show them you care, the differences you can make are unlimited.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with Lebron James because I have always looked up to him. He is one of the greatest of all time in his sport while also using his platform to help millions of people in a variety of different ways and I greatly admire that.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!