Since a young age, Devan Taylor has always been surrounded by female athletes. She would tag along with her sister to all her volleyball practices and start playing on the back wall as she aspired to be a collegiate athlete like her. Taylor learned from her sister’s collegiate volleyball experience and used that newfound knowledge when her college recruitment journey began. Devan Taylor now serves as Clemson’s starting libero and is finishing her sophomore year as a bioengineering major.
The Houston, Texas native grew up in an area that provided many opportunities for young women like her to pursue their passion for volleyball. Due to the popularity of the sport in Texas and her older sister, it was only natural for Taylor to start playing. Taylor is eternally grateful for everyone who has helped her along the way, especially Kara Pratt, who she gives the most credit; Pratt is a close family friend who serves as the recruiting coordinator at her hometown club volleyball team. “A lot of different people at my club and high school had my best interest in mind and played a part in my success.”
Being a collegiate volleyball player is not just everything. Taylor’s message to the next generation of female volleyball players is to be well-rounded in all they pursue. “It is not just about being the best volleyball player; you want to be the best person.”
Outside of her sister, Taylor idolizes many of the talented women on the United States National Volleyball Team, especially Morgan Hentz. Hentz played volleyball at Stanford as their libero and is now an American professional volleyball player with the USWNT. “The first time I saw her (Hentz) play, I knew I wanted to be just like her.” Taylor acknowledges that without these female role models in her life as a child, she might not be playing Division I volleyball.
At Clemson, Taylor is a part of more than just volleyball. In early February of 2022, Athletic Director Graham Neff and Senior Associate AD/Senior Woman Administrator Stephanie Ellison-Johnson announced the formation of POWER: Women’s Leadership Academy. In its inaugural year and as a part of its second cohort, Taylor works directly with POWER to empower and develop female student-athletes to become leaders in their workplaces, family and community. “While working with POWER, we get to see what people are doing for women’s sports at Clemson.”
In celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, Taylor is thrilled that women’s sport is a topic of discussion, as it did not always use to get the coverage it does now. The world of women’s sports has been ever-changing since Title IX’s passage in June of 1972, which jumpstarted this coalition for the representation of women’s athletics at all levels. Most importantly, the inclusivity of women in the heavily male-dominated sports atmosphere has brought opportunities to millions of women and girls across the United States and the world.
Even though Taylor is unsure of what the future of women’s sports may look like, she is excited to see where it goes as it continues to foster new opportunities for women like her on and off the court.