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Junior co-captain Taylor Cooper finished second on the team in total blocks last season.

Credit: Ilana Wurman

Hardworking: (of a person) tending to work with energy and commitment; diligent.

The first word that comes to mind when thinking of junior volleyball co-captain Taylor Cooper is hardworking. Dedicated to the sport and her team, Cooper constantly works to attain more both on and off the court.

A native of the Lone Star State, Cooper spent her early years living in the suburbs of Houston. From a young age, Taylor remembers constantly trying to keep up with her two brothers who were both competitive athletes involved with countless sports. In fact, one of her brothers, Stanford, is currently a student at Cornell, where he is a member of the track team. Clearly, athleticism is something that runs in the family.

Cooper was always ready to try something new, and was especially intrigued by volleyball. So in seventh grade, she joined her school’s team, where she became teammates with fellow Penn junior, Courtney Quinn. In 2016, Quinn was named Honorable-Mention All Ivy for volleyball and was the only Quaker to start in all 26 matches of the season, which is clearly an attribution to the foundations of volleyball both Quakers learned during their formative years on the court. Cooper soon left Quinn, however, as her family moved from Texas to Colorado.

“I completely fell in love with volleyball. Then I moved to Colorado and started playing club and it just became my life. It’s what I want to keep doing,” Cooper said.

And doing is something that Cooper focuses her volleyball leadership on. Cooper hopes to to teach her fellow Quakers how to speak to each other with honesty in order to create a sense of unity. Knowing how high the pressures of Division I volleyball can get, Cooper hopes to remind her fellow Quakers that being a member of a team makes you accountable to each other every time they step on the court.

“I prefer to be someone that leads by example and by my actions. I try to be really honest. I always say that if I am telling you something its because I believe you’re capable of doing it… I try to not just talk the talk, but actually walk it too,” Cooper explained about her leadership style.

Taylor has also established a close relationship with new head coach, Katie Schumacher-Cawley. As a junior, Cooper will be a key leader on the team for the next two seasons. In tandem with the coaching staff, Taylor hopes to motivate her team members to achieve greatness for the Red and Blue. 

“Taylor is a great person. I think she is a person who genuinely cares about her teammates on and off the court. I think the world of her. She's just a great worker. Volleyball wise, she's one of the hardest workers on the team and leads by example all the time,” Schumacher-Cawley praised.

And leading by example is something Cooper takes very seriously. Throughout her volleyball career at Penn, Taylor has seen significant improvement, making major strides last season when she started in 24 out of 26 matches as a sophomore. She finished 2016 ranked second on the team in total blocks (54) and first in blocks per set (0.67), to go along with a total of 92 kills and 11 digs.

Her senior classmates recognize the dedication possessed by Cooper.

"We all work hard, but Coop works harder,” senior Michelle Pereira joked.

While no definition can truly capture the work ethic possessed by Cooper, it is only fair to attribute her successes thus far to her hardworking dedication to the sport of volleyball and her fellow Quakers.

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