Meet volleyball player Taylor VanValey
What is success? “Giving glory to God,” would be the reply from Northwest Nazarene University junior Taylor VanValey, a social work major from Brush Prairie, Wash. Taylor, who is not only part of NNU’s nationally ranked volleyball team but also an exceptional student and track and field athlete, knows a lot about success.
Taylor has been playing volleyball since she was in seventh grade, at which point no one thought that this girl, who was just named the NCAA DII Defensive Player of the Week, would be any good at it. Even with everyone telling her she really should be playing basketball, she kept pursuing volleyball.
The NNU volleyball coach at the time came to see one of Taylor’s teammates during her junior year in high school, but while he was there, Taylor caught his attention. Meanwhile, Taylor dreamed about playing volleyball somewhere in California, so when the coach from a little Idaho college gave her an offer, she was quick to look for other options. “When senior year came around, however, NNU was the only really serious offer I had. I knew I had to take it or that would be it for me.”
In March of her senior year, Taylor committed to play for NNU, and in May, Taylor became a Christian. Thinking that life would be easy since she was now a Christian going to a Christian university, it came as a shock to her to struggle through her freshman year and question if she was supposed to be at NNU or even play volleyball. She was not prepared for the trials that would come her way nor was she ready for the three hardest years of her life.
People, circumstances and her love for athletics ultimately confirmed for her that she was in the right place. “I know God has me here for such a purpose,” Taylor reflected. After seeking out other colleges during her freshman year and wanting to transfer, Taylor ended up turning down a great offer from a California college because she knew NNU was where God had placed her.
“We don’t play for ourselves, we play for each other and we play for God. That’s why we are so successful.”
Over the years, God has completely transformed Taylor; “God’s provided for me in every way that I was lacking freshman year.” Now, the girls on the volleyball team are not only phenomenal teammates but also some of Taylor’s closest friends. Coach Doug English has also been a big influence in Taylor’s life, not only as a coach but also a mentor who wants her to be the best she can be on and off the court. English shares, “Because of NNU and its community and her putting God first in her life, she has been thriving here academically, athletically and socially.”
Taylor has been named to the GNAC All-Academic Team for the second year in a row and is currently fourth on NNU’s team in kills (152) and third in blocks (66). As she does her part to help push NNU’s volleyball team to the top, Taylor recognizes all the success as an opportunity to give glory to God: “Playing the sport I love with the girls I love is how I can praise God. In twenty years, this won’t matter—but how I give glory to God right now will matter.” Taylor credits all the team’s success to God: “We don’t play for ourselves, we play for each other and we play for God. That’s why we are so successful.”
Someday, Taylor wants to be a counselor for the Air Force, working with soldiers on base or in corrections helping kids and prisoners. “God loves everyone. They need love just like I need love.” One of her life goals is to someday set up social work programs oversees in countries that are lacking social programs.
This girl who radiates joy says that in high school, joy would not have been in her vocabulary. But through God’s provision for her life and praising God in the storms, Taylor is now not only on fire to win titles on the court but also to accomplish great things for the Kingdom of God.
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