The 2020 Olympics are closing in where over 11,000 athletes are expected to compete in Tokyo. In less than 10 months, a former Husker will be one of them. On Sunday, Oct. 6, it was announced that former Nebraska softball catcher Taylor Edwards will be a part of the USA softball team for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
For the last two years, Edwards has been a volunteer coach for the Huskers’ softball team while also playing professional softball. Now, she’s been added to the USA 2020 Olympic roster.
"It's a very humbling feeling, and I'm so honored to represent the USA,” Edwards said. “I've been dreaming of this since I was a kid. I want to make my family proud and continue to play for them, no matter how big the stage is."
Edwards grew up in Murrieta, California, where, from a young age, she dreamt about going to the Olympics.
“Growing up,” Edwards said, “I knew I wanted to play in the Olympics somehow, so it was always something in the back of my head pushing me.”
Edwards took her game to the next level when she started playing travel ball with the Corona Angels, led by head coach Marty Tyson. Tyson pushed his teams to become greater by having them play against higher-level competition.
“I’ve known Marty since I was 12 years old, and I loved playing for the Angels,” Edwards said. “The team was always so competitive, and Marty always had us practice or play in tournaments in a higher age group to help push us every single time we stepped on the field. I’m so grateful for that.”
Edwards went to Vista Murrieta High School, where she was a four-year varsity athlete for her softball team. In her career, she was one of only two players nationally selected to participate in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Under Armour All-American Softball Games. She also earned first-team All-America honors from EA Sports in 2009 and was also named the nation’s top junior.
After high school, Edwards had multiple scholarship offers, but she and her sister, Tatum Edwards, decided to don the red and white and join the Husker family.
“The decision to come to Nebraska wasn’t just mine,” Edwards said. “For Tatum and I, it was our dream to play together in college. We chose Nebraska because of the bonds we had built with the coaching staff through our recruiting years, the support the community gives to the university and the awesome academic support the student athletes have. [We] wouldn’t change our decision for anything.”
Edwards played for Nebraska from 2011 to 2014, only missing two of the team’s 233 games in four years. In her career as a Husker, she was a three-time all-conference performer, first-team All-American in 2014 and a top-25 finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year in 2011. She also holds 17 school records and a pair of NCAA records. She’s ranked second in school history in RBIs (202), third in runs (177) and total bases (423), fourth in slugging percentage (.629) and fifth in doubles (41), along with success in other categories as well..
She was also named Diamond Sports/NFCA Division I Catcher of the Year in 2014, the first Husker to ever receive the reward. Along with being a threat on the field, Edwards graduated with four Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll selections and a degree in sociology.
After graduating, Edwards was the eighth overall pick in the National Pro Fastpitch softball draft, going to the Pennsylvania Rebellion.
“Professional softball for me was very exciting and hard work,” Edwards said. “Women’s professional sports do not get nearly the amount of support as men’s professional sports do, but the support from the fans, league and athletes was still incredible.”
After her initial season with Pennsylvania, Edwards played for the Chicago Bandits for two years before joining the Scrap Yard Dawgs. For the last four years, Edwards has been continuing her softball career. She was also selected for the USA International Softball Team and the World Baseball Softball Confederation, where she got gold medals on both teams.
“To be able to continue playing softball made me even more thankful because I knew there were women out there who didn’t get the opportunity to continue playing,” Edwards said. “Every team I was on was such a fun and different experience because I was with women from all across the country.”
Even though Edwards was playing professional softball, she still made time to support her alma mater. For the last two years, Edwards has been a volunteer coach for the Nebraska softball team.
“Being a volunteer coach at the University of Nebraska was extremely helpful, not just in my personal training for the USA team, but in growing as a coach. There’s a lot of work off the field that coaches do to help their teams grow and build team chemistry. I’m thankful for all the coaches at Nebraska for allowing me to be a part of their staff and learn from them.”
Edwards tried out for the national team in 2016 but didn’t make the cut. A few years later, she got to try out again. When the roster for the USA Olympic Softball Team was released, Edwards couldn’t believe it, and neither could her family.
“My initial reaction when I saw my name on the roster was instant tears. When I was a little girl, my dream goal was to play in the Olympics. Now, I have finally accomplished something that will lead me to that goal. I called my parents, and we all started crying. They have supported my softball career financially, emotionally and have sacrificed so much for me to do what I love.”
With the Olympics just under 10 months away, Edwards is ready to see what’s in store.
“My preparation for the Olympics will definitely be mental, emotional and physical,” she said. “I’m so excited for this journey with the other 17 women, and I’m so ready to build a family and become sisters with them. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, but I know that we will compete day in and day out, but most importantly have fun and represent the USA in a professional manner.”