Student-athlete spotlight: Taylor Pippen | News from CoB | SIU

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Student-athlete spotlight: Taylor Pippen

October 01, 2014, Katja Sonkeng

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Taylor Pippen, Accounting '16

Taylor Pippen stepped out of her ballet slippers to become Southern Illinois University’s most dangerous weapon at the volleyball net.

In her third season as hitter, the junior accounting major has become a driving force of the Saluki volleyball squad.

But the gifted and versatile athlete from Mundelein, Illinois, considers herself a student first. She can often be found at the College of Business at Rehn Hall, and her goal is clearly defined.

“I came to the university to get my education,” she says. “After college, I definitely want to get my master’s (degree) and work for a public company.”

In pursuing these goals, volleyball has always played a big role in her life.

“Me playing volleyball here, and being an accounting major, will help me in the future with getting a job, because I can show off my qualities such as leadership skills, discipline and time management, and I can work well with others,” Pippen says.

A positive attitude, combined with support from coaches and professors, helps her balance the double workload. But she says the biggest help for her in those moments when she does feel stressed and tired “is communicating with my teammates.”

“Being able to talk and vent with them helps a lot,” she says.

Pippen is taking four classes this semester, despite endless hours of training and volleyball matches every weekend.

“A normal day would start with weights at 6:45 a.m.,” she says. “After that, I go to classes, grab something to eat and go to practice around 3:30 p.m. for about two hours. After practice, I get some studying done and I go to bed.”

So where does she find the time to tackle her homework?

“I study before and after practice,” she says. “When we go on a road trip, we’re able to study while we’re on the bus or in hotels. Even though we travel and practice a lot, I still make sure to get my studying in.”

Her hard work has paid off. During her sophomore year, the 5-foot-11-inch hitter earned Missouri Valley Conference scholar-athlete honors. At the time, she was a marketing major with a cumulative 3.71 GPA – and she also had an outstanding record of 129 blocks in the 30 matches she played.

Since then she has changed her major to accounting.

“I took Accounting 220 and I really liked it, so that made me decide that it would be something I want to do,” she says.

Despite the double workload of academics and athletics, Pippen never considered giving up playing volleyball for SIU.

“I love the experience of being able to represent my school on the courts, going to the different parts of the country and being able to play other really good teams,” she says.

Another perk, she admits with a humble smile, “is being able to walk around campus and be acknowledged as an athlete.”

Pippen led her hometown Carmel Catholic High School to a combined 52-25 record during her junior and senior seasons. The 20-year-old joined the Saluki volleyball program following a disappointing 9-18 season in 2011.

“I chose SIU because I liked the volleyball program and got along with the girls,” she says. “I really liked the atmosphere of the team.”

After a stellar high school sports career with accomplishments that included three varsity letters, being selected as one of the top 250 athletes in Illinois by Prep Volleyball and being named to the all-tournament team at the 2010 USA Volleyball Junior Nationals, Pippen has set her sights on winning an MVC title at SIU while staying on top of her coursework in the College of Business.

As she pursues that goal, she says she would love to see more fellow Salukis in the stands at home games.

“It’s really important that our fellow students come to our games to support us,” she says. “Davies Hall is a fun environment to be in. If there is a big crowd, I’d say it’s a big home advantage, as it gets in the other team’s head when it’s really loud and exciting.”

So come out and cheer for Pippen and her teammates! We thank her for taking time out of her busy schedule to meet with us.