Division 1 College Athlete. Professional Softball Player. Olympian.
Congratulations to Taylor Edwards for so many outstanding achievements. She recently got the chance to showcase her hard work and talent on the global stage, serving as an alternate to Team USA. She also finished battling with other professional athletes this summer in the most recent Athletes Unlimited Season. We are very proud of her and super excited to partner with her on this project.
Taylor Edwards is a phenomenal human being and really easy to work with. It was her idea to create a custom shoe for her upcoming season with Athletes Unlimited, which we were happy to do. The softball turf, cleat, and spike game could use a little spicing up. After the response of that shoe, and to celebrate all of her success, it was a no-brainer to make her part of The Next Season Collection.
Tell us your softball story.
Softball has always been in my family. My family is mom, dad, and older brother. And I have a twin sister who is 1 minute and 10 seconds older than me. And I have a younger sister. My dad played competitive slow pitch softball at the Major Level, which is the highest slow pitch level. As a little kid, we were always at the softball field. That’s how my sisters and I got into it. We started when we were 3 or 4 and ever since then, we’ve been in softball. We kind of played soccer and basketball, but softball always stuck. We just fell in love with it. My twin is a pitcher. Kind of by default, I became a catcher. It helped with her doing her stuff, but eventually, I started to fall in love with it. My dad played third base and catcher, so playing catcher let me build a cool and unique bond with him.
Have you always been a catcher?
In high school, I always played catcher. In travel ball, throughout the years, catcher, third base, and first base. I’ve been strictly catcher ever since college.
If you could do it all over again, would you be a catcher or pick a different position?
I think as I get older, I would want to change it. I love my catching experience and the relationships, bond, and time you build. I love the ‘every single pitch’ mentality that you get and that you are so into the game. But sometimes, I wished I could have played shortstop. I think that’s just the coolest position.
What was it about Nebraska that made you want to commit there?
So, I’ll always say we because my twin and I wanted to play together. We wanted to play travel ball and high school together. Once we figured out we were potentially good enough to play in college, we wanted to go somewhere together. It didn’t matter where it was, we just wanted to be together. We took visits to a couple of schools. And just out of all the visits we took, Nebraska stood out to us the most. The campus. The city. Being from Southern California and traveling to Lincoln, Nebraska was a learning experience. I didn’t even know where Lincoln, Nebraska was on a map. It was a small town that had a homey feel to it. It felt like a home away from home. I think we took two visits and after that, we committed. The feelings we got from being there, meeting the coaches, meeting the girls who were on the team before us, and just the tradition of Nebraska were all amazing.
The facilities and academics were all top-notch. I struggled in school and wasn’t very confident with academics. So the academic help was another key point for me. There wasn’t as much pressure for me to handle all of that on my own. I had people I could reach out to academic wise if I needed to.
At any point during your freshman year, did regret your decision?
During our unofficial visits, we made sure to go during the wintertime and when it was cold. We were from Southern California. We didn’t know what snow was! We had visited places that snowed, but this would be different. We would be living in this weather for months. We went to Nebraska for their fall games. We went another year for a camp, but we made sure those visits were dead in the middle of whatever winter storm was coming. We made sure to cross that off.
I remember the first two weeks, we were both homesick. We would skype with our parents and cry. We’d ask ourselves the same question all the time in the beginning. What are we doing here? But we had each other. That definitely helped out a lot.
What are some life lessons that you’ve taken from softball that has trickled over into your everyday life?
Patience. Learn the game. Learn about whatever environment I’m in. Just be patient with it. And let things play out. I know a lot of people need to learn patience these days.
Being a catcher, I had to learn to be more vocal. See something, say something. Whatever my opinion is, know that it’s always valid. Speak up about something. Be vocal about what I think. That’s definitely gotten better as I have gotten older. As I kid, I was never like that. I wasn’t open. I wasn’t talkative. That was always my twin Tatum. She was always the loud one, while I was always the quiet one.
Softball has definitely opened me up to networking. It has helped me learn how to communicate with other players, girls, women, of all ages. Beginning to understand where they grew up and how they developed. I’ve played with girls that I grew up with all the way through college. I’ve also played with girls who are now moms and get to see their lives come together. All of those experiences have helped mold me into the woman I am today. Learn to connect with other people. Especially in the pro league, we would have new teammates randomly throughout the season. Being able to connect with people in order to have open and honest communication right away has definitely helped me as I’ve gotten older.
How was the Olympic Experience for you these last two years?
Sometimes I’m at a loss for words and I felt super honored to do it. I remember softball being removed from the Olympics. I was still in college and thought that really sucks. I didn’t know anything about pro leagues at the time so I thought softball was over. I would have to join the real world, workforce, and try to figure out what I was going to do next.
Then, later, when they announced softball would be back in the Olympics, I was playing pro ball and working on playing overseas. I thought at the time that this could really be something and I had the experience to maybe make the team.
I made the National Team in 2018 when we qualified for the Olympics. I didn’t make the 2019 summer team. So, when tryouts came for the 2020 Olympic team, I told myself to leave it all out on the field. Whether or not I made the team, I wanted to make myself proud based on the effort I gave. I just decided to give it everything I had because I had been trying to make the goal of making the Olympic Team a reality. Being an alternate on this team has been a cool journey. It’s been an honor honestly.
How did you respond to not making the 2019 Summer Team?
Not making the team that summer was tough. It was a mental check for me. It was a soul check. It forced me to face my emotions at the time. I loved what I was doing. Feeling that strongly and upset about it let me know that I still loved the game. I wanted to compete. I wanted to represent my country. I wanted to wear those letters again. I worked more on myself and the little things that I could control. That was the biggest light bulb moment for me. I was just going to put it all out there. It didn’t matter my skills compared to someone else. I focused on the intangible things I could bring to the team. I focused on how I could make myself better and make my teammates better. That week of tryouts for the Olympic Team was really cool.
Tell us about your collection
Colleen (RIP-IT designer) came back with a few designs. It started out with a zebra which reminded me of my twin sister. It was a black and white design. One and two. Which again reminded me of my twin sister. I really like the animal thing. I really enjoy animals. Sometimes even more than people. Animals are more straightforward than people. They either like you or they don’t. Animals don’t have a lot of grey areas when it comes to their feelings towards you. I loved the zebra part of it, but I resonate more with Big Cats. I have a whole tattoo on my arm. Big Cats are majestic, beautiful, strong, and when you see them, you think of females first. Female empowerment. That’s what I truly love. So I knew I wanted to do something animal-related and a big cat. So looking at the designs that Collen created, I really loved the snow leopard. They are an endangered species so you never get to see them. Seeing one would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I really love the color blue and I wanted blue in the theme. So I decided on the snow leopard with the blue.
Did you get any advice on your choice?
I was rooming with Monica Abbot on the USA tour. She was always talking about taking advantage of opportunities like this because once you’re done playing softball, you won’t have as many opportunities to inspire or empower people. I should take advantage of the platform of the Olympic Team. She also told me to not think about the money or the brand. Instead, focus on what feels right for me. The more genuine you are, the better people will come into your life.
Why a Leopard?
I thought about the spots on them. The entire leopard family has spots on them. Everyone has pieces of their story that make them who they are now. Things that happened in middle school, high school, college, and even yesterday that make me who I am right now. How could I incorporate those moments into this collection?
I love being me. I love not caring what other people think. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in that. So much so, that you’re not your genuine self. A couple of years ago, I just decided to stop caring about what other people think. I wanted to really live and not live like a zombie in this world trying to please other people.
I really like the spots thing. Each spot is different. Just like every moment in your life is different. They transform you into who you are. You are forever changing. That’s how the name of my collection, Be You, came up. Let each individual spot on the shoe represent something that you want it to be.
What does Be You mean?
Just the phrase Be You came up in a conversation I was having with Amanda Chidester. Amanda is this amazing right-handed, power hitter. Every ball she hits is a home run. It’s not just a squeaker. 225 ft. Every homer un she hits is a 275 ft bomb. It became so nonchalant. So whenever she would be in batting practice, we would be in the same group. Amanda was in the cage one-day hitting line drives all over the place and she was getting questions from people watching. Where are the bombs? Every time we would switch out, I would just remind her to ignore the people watching and just be you. Stay in your lane. Work on what you want to work on. Don’t feel pressured by outside people. Just do the things that you do.
How did you come up with this motto?
For a while, my life motto was to live life to the fullest. Live for the moment. We don’t know if we have tomorrow. Why wait for something if you don’t know if it’s going to come. So that was always my life motto. It slowly evolved into just focusing on being who I am.
It all changed for me after living and playing softball overseas. Japan was so different. I stood out like a sore thumb because I was a foreigner. In their culture, at least what I was exposed to, they wear whatever. Something that fits them. The culture is focused on living more in the present. In my head and my heart, I transitioned into not worrying about stuff so much. Doing stuff for me and making me happy. I started to think about just being who I am and not being worried about doing something dumb. Feeling stupid is something that is pushed on to you and that’s not something I really feel.
What was your turning point for you to focus on your happiness?
Living overseas. It was the first time my twin and I were away from each other our whole entire lives. Finding my individual self without her. Finding my individual self outside of her. Finding my own softball identity without her. I was already openly out as being gay and then living in Japan. There are parts of the Japanese culture where being gay isn’t really excepted. Being gay is becoming more widely excepted now, over time. Being over there really showed me that I didn’t need to worry about being someone else or not being myself.
Tell me about the first time you found out about this opportunity?
The zoom call when we discussed it for the first time. I thought it could be a really empowering opportunity and a great chance for athletes to tell their stories. Everyone has a story. Being able to empower people.
What does empowerment mean to you?
Whenever I think of it, I get emotional. It means having the strength to do something that you’ve been holding on to. You are finally breaking through things that are holding you back. That word is very powerful for me. I just remember the times that I was scared to do things. Having the moments recognizing that I wasted a lot of time not being present.
This collection gives me the opportunity to say something. Not just in words. But also physically be a platform for someone else. I remember when I was with Tatum, my twin, and how she would always talk and I would just be there. Tatum would always have the words and I would always be standing there, without the words. I would have the courage to be there, but not the courage to talk.
This collection has allowed me to express myself in more than just words.