October 17, 2013

BACK IN MY DAY: School Record Holder Taylor Harkins '11 Looks Back As Part of the 50th Anniversary of Women's Athletics

Santa Clara is catching up with many of the women celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Women's Athletics. Today we look back with former Bronco women's water polo player Taylor Harkins '11. Harkins has the career scoring record at Santa Clara with 171 goals, and she was team captain and MVP in 2011, her senior year. Harkins was named to the WWPA All-Conference First Team in 2011 and to the 2008 WWPA All-Freshman team her rookie year.

SCU: This year Santa Clara is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Women's Athletics at SCU. What does that mean to you? What does it mean to you to have played in the first 50 years? 

TH: I think it is fantastic that Santa Clara University is celebrating 50 years of Women's Athletics. I may not have known about SCU if it wasn't for women's athletics so it means a lot to me. I was first introduced to SCU through water polo and after visiting campus I knew I had to be a Bronco. It was an honor to play for the Bronco women's water polo team in the first 50 years and to be a student at a school that made me so incredibly happy. I look forward to cheering on women's athletics at SCU in the future and celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Women's Athletics! 

SCU: Do you have special memories of Santa Clara you would like to share with us? A couple as an athlete or a student? –

TH: As a student … I really enjoyed being part of the Senior Leadership Academy with Professor Bill Mains and getting to have dinner with Bay Area CEOs to discuss the importance of work-life balance. 

The SCU business school is unbeatable. Having professors, like Professor Barr and Professor DJB, emphasize the real-life applications of what they were teaching was wildly beneficial as a student and has proved to be helpful throughout my career.

As an athlete ... Coach Wilbur always made an effort to make practice fun during finals. We'd have a relay day instead of a swim set which was always great fun and ended with everyone laughing. Coach Wilbur would also tell the greatest final story of all times… the story improved every time he told it! 

Getting to travel with the team was always a highlight for me. Whether it was on the bus to Bakersfield or flying to Arizona we always had fun traveling as a team. Traveling in a pack of twenty girls dressed head-to-toe in matching SCU gear always drew attention no matter where we went. I have so many great memories from those trips and photos to prove it!

I also loved Athlete's Ball. It was a wonderful event to celebrate SCU athletics and to get all the different teams together. That was always a great night.  

 SCU: What was it like for you to play at Santa Clara? 

TH: Playing water polo at Santa Clara was an incredibly special experience. There is no greater feeling than knowing you have the support of your entire team and your Coach. I am so grateful to have played with such an exceptional group of girls that were there for me in the pool and as a friend when practice was over.

It wasn't just the coaches and players that made it special though.  It was also the parents who sat in the pouring rain to cheer us on, professors who came to the game to see what water polo was all about, the athletic department and training room staff that supported us outside the pool and fellow students who were our greatest fans at home games. It is the Santa Clara community that makes being a student-athlete at Santa Clara so special.

SCU: What was special about being a college student-athlete as a woman?

TH: Being a female student-athlete was an honor and something I was very proud of.  I think playing a sport where your friends and classmates can come to your game to cheer you on and see what you have been training for is really special.

SCU: What do you see in the future for college athletics? 

TH: For water polo particularly, I see the sport growing and becoming more popular throughout the U.S. I also hope to see more scholarships and founding for the SCU women's water polo program. Our alumni and parents are working hard to raise funds to build a strong endowment fund for the program to guarantee future female athletes will have an opportunity to be part of the SCU women's water polo team.