The Online Edition


Leadership Lessons

Field Hockey Captain Taylor Ryan Scores In Multiple Campus Roles

by James Jaskolka ’16


Field hockey captain Taylor Ryan practices at Schmidt Stadium. Photo by Curtis Salonick.

Watching Wilkes field hockey captain Taylor Ryan in action, she seems to be a natural leader. The senior communication studies major feels differently, however, crediting her experiences on and off the field with developing her ability.

“I definitely think that it came with time and experience…it came with people, coaches and professors really pushing me to get where I am,” she says.

Ryan, a Fredericksburg, Va., native who also has minors in marketing and women’s and gender studies, has played field hockey since she was 7. Recruited to play for Wilkes, she was voted captain at the beginning of the fall 2016 season.

Ryan has led the team through a strong season that ended in the Middle Atlantic Conference Semifinals, but she’s interested in more than just winning. As captain, she strives to make sure the team has chemistry, and that the younger players feel comfortable, included and valued. Her reasoning? She wants new teammates to have the experience she did as a first-year student athlete.

“If I was to designate one thing that’s given me more than anything else, I would say it’s field hockey,” she explains. “It’s really shaped me as a student and a person, but also as a leader, and it’s set me up really well for my leadership roles now.”

Ryan’s leadership positions outside of athletics include serving as sports co-editor of The Beacon, Wilkes University’s student-run newspaper, and as co-chair of Zebra Communications, the student public relations agency. She also was chosen to be a Kirby Scholar at the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. As a scholar, she assists local businesses – and the center itself – with everything from pitching press releases to establishing brand cohesion.

Ryan also is committed to giving back to the community. All sports teams do community service. Leading Zebra, Ryan and the other co-chairs made it a point to take on clients that actively make a difference, such as the Special Olympics and the Children’s Miracle Network.

To an outsider, it may seem like athletics and academics compete for Ryan’s attention, but she doesn’t see it that way. At Wilkes, she says, she never had to pick one facet of her identity over the other. She attributes this to the faculty and staff – from coaches to administrators – who encourage students to get involved and reach their potential.

“Coming to college is when I was able to break out of my shell,” she says. “I evolved and gained that confidence because of the people I surrounded myself with, and I think that’s the most important thing.”