Luke Bolanos, Director of Athletic Communications
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Thanks to a combination of stellar play on the field and exceptional performance in the classroom, Lincoln Memorial University women’s soccer player Rachel Taylor was tabbed the 2021 South Atlantic Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year, league officials declared on Tuesday afternoon.
A junior nursing major and potent striker for the Lady Railsplitters, Taylor receives the 2021 spring edition of the conference’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor thanks to a multitude of accolades based off work completed through her studies and in community efforts, not to mention her reputation as one of the most adept forwards in the SAC across her third collegiate campaign.
Presented annually to one student-athlete in each of the South Atlantic Conference’s championship sports, the league’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipient is voted on by the SAC’s Faculty Athletics Representatives Committee, with each winner being carefully selected based on their achievements in academics, athletics, service, and leadership.
Through her three-year tenure donning the blue and gray on the soccer field, Taylor has been included amongst a handful of accolades thanks to her work away from the sport, highlighted by a spot on the SAC Commissioner’s Honor Roll on three separate occasions, as well as a mention towards the NCAA Division II ADA Academic Achievement Award shortlist. Additionally, Rachel has met the criteria for the LMU Athletic Director Academic Squad in three different semesters while becoming a two-time Lady Railsplitter Dean’s List honoree juggling the rigorous demands that a nursing major dictates.
“Rachel is the epitome of the college student-athlete”, proclaimed first-year LMU women’s soccer head coach Matthew Carr. “She demands excellence of herself every day in the classroom as well as on the field. She has developed tremendously this past year while reaching many milestones in all areas of her life. We are extremely excited for Rachel to receive this prestigious award.”
A native of nearby Clarksville, Tenn., Taylor made a sizable leap emerging into one of the Lady Railsplitters’ top threats during an overachieving season for the blue and gray, finishing the spring term tied for third in the SAC in goals (5) and in points (12), earning her an all-conference First Team selection in the process.
Landing in second place in the league in total shots (38), the junior tallied at least one score in five of the team’s seven matches, saving her best work for arch-rival Carson-Newman in a pair of thrilling victories that bookended the season. In the 2021 opener back in February against the Eagles, Taylor landed one of two assists on the year early in the second half before bouncing in the game-clinching goal with 24 seconds remaining in double-overtime. In the C-N rematch just over one month later in Harrogate, Taylor scooped up her third career multi-goal outing by netting a pair of strikes to give the Lady Railsplitters another of their four victories.
Rachel continues her active pursuits in the local community when not competing for LMU or participating in the classroom, having served as both a coach and mentor at several Lady Railsplitter youth soccer clinics while also taking part in clean-up efforts at Harrogate City Park, Tazewell Municipal Park, and Pine Hill Hollow Riverfront.