Sweet 16 lives and plays by sound rules

When Lauren Taylor ’08 took a summer internship at the American Red Cross of Greater New York in Manhattan, her initial assignment was to create disaster-preparedness presentations to educate the general public. But she soon found a greater calling within the organization.

Upon discovering that children’s programs had been cut because of post-Sept. 11 funding redistribution, she single-handedly revived and led the instruction of area youth in health and safety practices. By the end of the summer, she had taught more than 1,000 students and had created an instructional handbook on how to jump-start similar low-budget programs, which was then distributed across the city and the tri-state area.

This same motivated Yalie walks daily across campus layered in variations of lacrosse apparel and sweats, unrecognized by most of her peers for this accomplishment. Instead, she is known for her ever-increasing athletic achievements in her sport of choice.

Just last season as a freshman, Taylor was named a third team All-American, first team All-Ivy and first team North All-Region selection in lacrosse. She led the Bulldogs in points, finished third in the league in goals per game, and was named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week for the week of April 14.

“Being third team All-American was just ridiculous,” Taylor said. “It just blew me away. It was such an incredible honor.”

She continues to dominate this season, leading the league in goals per game and shots per game and ranking third in points per game. She is also a member of the U.S. Women’s Lacrosse National Development team.

Regardless of her accomplishments, the generally good-natured and smiling Taylor operates under a code of perpetual modesty. Even her closest friends are hard pressed to find her bragging or speaking of her personal success.

“She’s not full of herself,” said Kate Taylor, her younger sister and best friend. “She’s so humble after games, and she’s so modest. She’ll never tell people stuff.”

But Lauren Taylor is very willing to share when it comes to her perspective and motivations. She lives by a strong belief in balance and the pursuit of personal happiness in all aspects of her life. Whether it is trying to better the world, play lacrosse or excel academically, she has a passion for her endeavors and goes forth with full commitment.

“She’s very inspired in the way she goes about her everyday life,” teammate Casey Littlefield ’07 said. “She’s just passionate.”

In her freshman year, Taylor managed to balance the load of Directed Studies along with the rigors of Division I athletics. She described the academic experience as grueling but fun and said it made her better appreciate the talents of others.

Of course, the midfielder also holds fast to her life guidelines on the field.

“The only reason I play lacrosse is because it makes me happy,” Taylor said. “I will walk away as soon as it doesn’t make me happy anymore.”

This is not to say that she lacks passion for the sport. Her teammates rely on her as an athletic force and a natural leader. Caroline Edsall ’06, who said she used to joke that the underclassman should give her lessons, calls Taylor one of the best lacrosse players she knows.

“People just rely on her to score the goals and score the goals in a crush moment,” Edsall said. “She brings a flow to the attack, and she’s good at letting people know where to go vocally and subconsciously.”

The Eli is also known for cheering on her fellow team members. Edsall said Taylor often provides positive reinforcement and shares much-appreciated constructive criticism.

Despite all of her on-the-field achievements, Taylor makes sure to balance out her athletic life with her social life. By her own intention, she is the only varsity athlete in her Silliman suite.

“I love that I get home from the biggest game of my life, and they wouldn’t know, couldn’t care less, because it would be the same if it was the worst,” Taylor said.

Taylor plans to graduate as a history of science, history of medicine major and has applied for Yale’s five-year master’s program in public health. She hopes this will lead to a career in disaster management. Following this same line of interest, she currently writes for the Yale Journal of Public Health.

Even while carefully balancing her activities, Taylor maintains a level of nonchalance and lightness in her demeanor. She chose the number 16 — the number she still wears today — in grade school because she liked the idea of a “Sweet 16″ birthday party. She laughs at the personal reminders written on the back of her hand and lists the snooze button as her number one interest on facebook.com. She’s also notorious for sleeping through team activities. But on the whole, she is quite well put together.

“She knows what she’s doing,” Kate Taylor said. “She’s always there when you need her.”

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