Taylor Soule: From Lebanon Roots to the WNBA
From humble beginnings, she stays humble. Virginia Tech women’s basketball star Taylor Soule – who grew up in Lebanon – is officially on her way to the WNBA after being selected in the April Draft.
Soule was raised in West Lebanon alongside her sister Zoe, and together, the self-proclaimed “Soule Sisters” represented New Hampshire on a national level as members of their junior high track team. “(I’m) not sure if anyone ever called us that, but we did,” Soule says. At age 10, Soule won the national 9/10 girls 100-meter event while competing at the Hershey’s Track and Field Games North American Finals in Hershey, PA.
Soule graduated from Kimball Union Academy (KUA) in 2018, where she excelled in both soccer and basketball. Her former women’s high school basketball coach, Liz McNamara, has previously been quoted highlighting Soule’s extreme athleticism and major representat ion of the Upper Valley on a national scale.
In 2017, Soule was recruited to play basketball for Boston College and started 20 out of 29 games during her freshman year. Soule would go on to score over 1,000 points over four seasons at Boston College and then transferred in 2022 as a graduate student to Virginia Tech (VT), known for its academic prowess in addition to its glowing sports program.
“Growing up I was always athletic, always enjoying sports, and running,” Soule recalls. “I kept doing it to please my parents and coaches.” When asked about the “heroes” in her life, Soule gives a heartfelt shout-out to her parents, John McDermott and Kate Soule of West Lebanon. “I really just want to thank them for all the small stuff they did, things that I may not remember, but they do.”
One of Soule’s best memories of growing up in Lebanon is “hanging out with all my friends playing basketball and throwing footballs, and the jump rope classic” after school at the CCBA, she says. The CCBA’s Witherell Recreation Center has been offering youth programs to families for over 100 years, used widely by area residents like Soule.
While enrolled at VT, Soule has been a star forward for the women’s basketball program, wearing the lucky #13 jersey. She would start each game and score double figures in more than half of those games. This April marked an even bigger milestone for the Virginia Tech “Hokies” (named after the college’s “HokieBird” mascot which resembles a turkey).
The Virginia Tech women’s basketball team sat together on April 11th to watch the WNBA draft while on campus. “It was crazy. I was at school watching with my teammates in sweatpants,” Soule recalls. Guard Kayana Traylor was swept up by the Chicago Sky as the 23rd draft selection; which garnered cheerful screams and cries from the team when the news broke.
Soule retells that she then stood up, heading toward the door, thinking the chances of another VT player being selected to the WNBA were slim – it had never happened before. Little did she know that only five selections later, she would set a new record for her college and team when she was selected alongside Traylor. The Minnesota Lynx took Soule as the 28th draft selection. The room full of teammates erupted at the news and “I was crying tears of pure joy to be selected,” Soule remembers.
When asked how her team celebrated this double-draft pick, Soule recalls emotions of excitement, relief, and disbelief. “The celebration is endless,” she says. Only eight players from Virginia Tech have ever been drafted into the WNBA to date. The Upper Valley sports fans and community are still celebrating this momentous selection of a Lebanon native to the WNBA. For many of us as players or parents, this news is truly inspiring.
Soule will now be wearing the #7 jersey alongside three other women selected as part of the 2023 draft class for Minnesota, including the number two overall draft pick Diamond Miller from Maryland. “My greatest strengths as a professional athlete would have to be my defensive versatility and my ability to guard multiple positions,” Soule says. “I’m planning to show off these skills at training camp.”
Last year’s WNBA regular season standings ranked Minnesota as #9 overall. The addition of four bright new stars has the potential to take Lynx to the top. Preseason games will quickly begin on May 5 and the team’s season opener on May 19th will be against Chicago Sky, meaning that Traylor and Soule will meet again as opponents!
As an athlete, Soule stays motivated by “playing with people that take the time to enjoy what they do and work hard,” she says. Soule is also currently completing a one-year online Master’s Degree in Instructional Design and Technology through Virginia Tech. When asked about her plans for this degree, she highlights the endless possibilities and says she “(sees) herself as a future teacher or coach.”
As far as Soule’s daily routine, her workout and diet regime consists of generally completing her workouts in the morning so she can make her afternoons available. Hydrating to keep herself feeling energized and snaking throughout the day are other habits Soule swears by. “I tend to go with the flow on a day-to-day basis,” she says.
When not on the court, Soule loves clearing her mind by listening to music. “I’ll sit in the car sometimes for three to four hours just listening to anything. People ask ‘Is that country music?’ And I ask them, ‘You know where I grew up?’,” referencing her childhood in the Upper Valley. “I listen to McDonough, R+B, Coco Jones… anything.”
Finally, when asked how the similar temperatures of New Hampshire may have prepared her for a 21-hour move to Minnesota, Soule replies, “I brought my boots.”