Every great team has a player who may not have the best statistics, or may not make the flashiest plays, but who leads by example, motivates the team and always puts the team first. That person’s importance to the team is not quantifiable, but at the same time vital to the team’s success. For the George Washington University women’s soccer team, that player is senior forward, Taylor Katz. As the Colonels look to make the A-10 Championships for the second straight year, leadership from Katz will be key.
Taylor does many of the little things that won’t grab the attention of the people in the stands, said third-year coach Sarah Barnes, “but she leads by example and the people around her really respond.” “Her [Katz] being the leader is just one of those unsaid things,” said senior midfielder Nicole Belfonti, age 20.
“The underclassmen especially look up to her.” Katz, age 20, came to GW after being a five-year varsity player in her hometown of Jericho, N.Y., in addition to being a member of the nationally ranked Albertson Fury club soccer team. Multiple division-one programs recruited her before she ultimately decided on GW.
Katz said she chose the program because on her first visit she fell in love with the city and felt an immediate bond with the players. “Playing in college was something I just knew I wanted to do,” Katz said. From an early age, Katz says, her parents were the type to always put her into sports and around age 9 or 10, she found her way into travel soccer and never looked back. After starting most games her freshman year, Katz primarily was used off the bench her sophomore and junior year.
This year Katz started the first two games of the season, a 6-0 win over Mt. St. Mary’s and a 1-0 overtime win over Old Dominion.
Barnes attributes Katz’s increased playing time this season to Katz coming into the season extremely fit and focused on what she had to do in her role for the team. On the field it’s evident how much Katz impacts her team as you can hear her shouting words of encouragement to her teammates during practice. “She has a way of picking people up,” said goalkeeper Ellen Conway, age 20. “She’s the one always yelling ‘Let’s Go Colonels!’ or ‘Nice save keep!’ to goalies during practice.” Simply put, Katz is a team player.
Along with her contributions on the field, Katz also plays a vital role in keeping the team loose throughout the long season. “She does a great job of making people laugh,” said Barnes, “it cuts the tension.” Barnes recalls one time after a tough practice Katz began handing out flat practice cones to players pretending they were pizzas. When asked about her goofy nature Katz jokingly said, “I’m a stand-up comedian,” then laughed and said, “not seriously.”
Katz said her philosophy on the matter is that “everything is better when you’re having fun” and that’s exactly she wants her team to do. All jokes aside, Katz is a standout in the classroom as she has made the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll all three of her years at GW. Belfonti said of Katz that she was “the most balanced college student athlete I’ve ever known.”
After she leaves Katz said she hopes her teammates will remember her as a hardworking, committed and focused player, one who never left anything on the field. Judging from how highly her teammates and coach spoke of her, that shouldn’t be a problem.