Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Taylor Schlopy Steps Into Justin's World

One of the most recognizable names and individuals in the entirety of National Pro Fastpitch has to be Akron Racers outfielder Taylor Schlopy. Patrolling center field for the team since 2011, she has become one of the most popular players in the league and a virtual Face of the Franchise.

A two-time all-American, Schlopy was one of three Georgia Bulldogs selected in the 2011 draft along with Megan Wiggins and Alisa Goler and the trio have since become stalwarts in the league.

Schlopy's veteran presence should prove valuable this season, as the Racers continue their youth movement with two rookie outfielders and a new Japanese import. With second-year player Jenny Gilbert returning full-time to the team, Schlopy should have no shortage of talented, young players to mentor and perhaps regain her collegiate stardom in the process.

Having tested the collegiate coaching waters, Schlopy has ventured on, as you'll read more of below. She'll be back in a Racers uniform for the fifth year this summer.

In addition to my questions for her, Taylor took the time to answer several questions from fans. Check out the Justin's World Facebook page to see if your question got answered!

Justin’s World: Tell me how you got started playing softball. How old were you when you started out with the game?
Taylor Schlopy: I started playing softball at the age of 6 because I wanted to be just like my big sister. She is 2 1/2 years older than me and was the person I looked up to most. Anything I could do to follow her lead I was doing!

Justin’s World: You wore #6 at UGA, then switched to #2 when you got to Akron. Tell me what significance those numbers have to you and why you chose to wear each of them.
Taylor Schlopy: I wore number 6 in college because it was my father’s and sister’s number while we all grew up. It eventually just became a family number to continue the legacy. As for the number 2, it was the only even single digit number left from Akron because they retired number six for Crystal Bustos.

Justin’s World: If you had to choose one favorite memory from your career thus-far, when would it be?
Taylor Schlopy: My favorite memory of my career would be going to the World Series for the first time in Georgia history in 2009. I felt extremely blessed to be a part of the history of the program and our team that year was unlike any other. The passion, love, heart, pride, and hard work we put into each and every game is an experience that I will be forever grateful for.

Justin’s World: What’s it like, now that you’re in the pros, to play against former teammates and suit up with former rivals?
Taylor Schlopy: It is very interesting to play against former teammates. However, each year it has become more normal. With this being my 5th year in the league, I have gotten used to seeing them on different teams. With that being said, we will forever have the bond of the G and that could never be replaced. As for playing with former rivals, I think it is a cool experience to hear their stories and learn from their softball knowledge furthering everyone’s love of the game.

Justin’s World: Tell me about playing for coach Harris-Champer.
Taylor Schlopy: Playing for Coach Harris-Champer was a huge blessing. She taught me many things about softball and life, along with providing me with the tools needed to become a better softball player. She is an amazing, strong, fearless woman, who cares for her players and would do anything for them. I was lucky to be able to play for her and represent the G.

Justin’s World: Tell me how you first heard about the NPF & became interested in taking part in the league.
Taylor Schlopy: I first heard about the NPF when Joey was looking at me at the Palm Springs tournament. Prior to that occasion, I had never heard of the NPF. Once I found out about the league, I was very interested in prolonging my career and trying to help build the future of softball.

Justin’s World: Give me your thoughts on the league’s expansion and what it means for the advancement of the league and the game as a whole.
Taylor Schlopy: I am ecstatic to hear that the league is expanding and giving more girls the opportunity to play the game they love. It also allows us to reach more fans and venues to help expand the sport. Each and every team we can add will help further the future of this sport for young girls, which is the goal of the current players, owners, and teams.  

Justin’s World: You’re originally from Cali, but you ended up playing ball in Georgia. Tell me why you chose to join the Dawgs and what some of the biggest differences were between California and the south.
Taylor Schlopy: I chose to attend Georgia for college because I love the passion, drive, family atmosphere, and blue-collar work mentality of the south. Also, I have always loved the state of Georgia, due to the fact that a lot of my family lives here and I knew I would have the support of them throughout college. Last and most important, my grandfather, who was my best friend before passing away my sophomore year of college biggest dream was for me to attend UGA, and I wanted to achieve that for him.

Justin’s World: Playing in the WCWS is a chance very few players get; you have the even rarer distinction of having both pitched and played your usual outfield position in the World Series. Tell me what that experience was like for you. Concurrently, how do you think your prowess in one area helps you improve
and succeed in the other?
Taylor Schlopy: Playing at the College World Series was the best experience of my softball career. It was great to be surrounded by great teams/players and showcase all the hard work your team has put in all year long. The fan base at the World Series is also one of a kind. The energy and love they have for the games runs through your blood as soon as you hit the field. It's a very intense and powerful feeling to put on a show for them. I think it helps being skilled in multiple positions because it allows your athleticism to grow. However, I do believe it is important to become great at one position and then expand from there; instead of being mediocre at multiple.

Justin’s World: Tell me about your future plans; both involved with softball and outside the game. With a few years of college coaching under your belt at this point, is that an area you’re still planning to pursue further?
Taylor Schlopy: My future plans involve playing softball for as long as I can and continue to make a difference in the game. Whether that be through lessons, camps, clinics, practicing, or coaching. Once I am done playing, I would like to open my own facility and settle down with my own family.

Justin’s World: I read earlier today that you are working with Megan Wiggins at her new facility in Winder. Though you’re now on-field rivals in the NPF, tell me what it’s like to be working with your old teammate
Taylor Schlopy: It has been great working with Wiggins. There is never a dull moment in our facility and we are constantly learning and trying to improve our skills to help develop the game for others. Plus, it's a pleasure to go to work and do what I love, alongside great friends.

Justin’s World: Let’s have some fun with the last one! Say you were stranded on a deserted island, but could take three things with you. No boats, no phones. What would you take?

Taylor Schlopy: If I was stranded and could take three things, I would take my English Bulldog Bronx, solar powered iPod, and my family.

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