Both on and off camera, Maria Taylor represents what it means to be a true creator. After playing volleyball and basketball at the University of Georgia and earning a degree in Sports Journalism, Maria went on to pursue her passion of sports broadcasting. She is currently a college analyst and reporter for the SEC Network, covering nationally broadcasted games for college football, volleyball and basketball.
Maria’s achievements extend far beyond her athletic accomplishments and the world of sports broadcasting. She has been an active advocate and mentor to underserved girls in her community and has become an activist for keeping girls in sport.
Recently, she hosted the Running With series, interviewing other creators in a variety of different fields, from athletes, to supermodels, to gamers and entertainers. We caught up with Maria to find out more about the impact running and sport has had on her life and what insights she gained through the Running With series.
As an ex-athlete yourself, how important is sport to you now?
For me, being an athlete changed my entire life. It built my confidence. Being a taller girl growing up, it’s not exactly the spot you want to be in. It’s hard when all your classmates are making fun of you, calling you a giant.
Since I began playing sports, I’ve learned how to fail. I’ve learned how to respond to failure. I’ve learned how to handle success. I’ve learned what is required if you want to be successful. That means the time, energy, and effort that has to be put in every day. That means working the hours that you have to work when no one’s looking to look good when everybody’s eyes are on you.
Sport has brought me a determined mindset – I know there’s always going to be a competitor that wants to beat me. There’s always someone else that wants my job. I am always thinking about how I get better – how do I just make myself that bit stronger? This mindset is applicable to face the challenges that you encounter every day at work.
What did you learn from those you interviewed during the Running With series?
When I ran with Karlie Kloss, I learned that if she’s upset or she didn’t get a job, she goes for a run. She has since become a marathoner, because that’s how much running means to her. It’s taught her how to push through the hard part. It’s also become something that gives her a moment to herself. She’s turned running into a lifestyle.
I think that it’s important for people like Karlie and Pusha T who are creators. They’re constantly trying to think of new and innovative things and I think that some of their inspiration comes from running or taking that time for themselves.
Has taking part in the Running With series changed your preconceptions of those you interviewed?
I think Ninja certainly was one of them. When you think of gamers, you maybe think of someone who just sits in front of a TV and never interacts with others, but Ninja has such a big personality. He wanted to hear more about me and was asking questions about sports broadcasting and we talked about his life. It was personal and it was fun to see that side of him, to understand more about gaming and to see the bond that JuJu (Smith-Schuster) and Ninja have with one another.
Juju is a professional athlete and is performing at the most elite level by playing in the NFL. He’s best friends with Ninja, and they love to game together. To see the boundary that you think exists being demolished, to see people bonding over different things was really cool for me. I learned a lot.
Ninja was certainly a great experience for me, that was the first time I’ve ever been up close and personal with a gamer.
What advice do you have for people who aren’t runners or might be intimidated by running?
I think people decide they aren’t a runner before they even try it, but I think the first thing that anyone should do is lace up and go check it out. Even if in the beginning you can only run for two minutes, do that.
Run for two minutes and then walk for 10, and then run for another two. There’s never a set distance that says that you’re a runner. As long as you’re out there and you run, that makes you a runner. You don’t have to run a 10K or a 5K or a half marathon. Getting out there and lacing up and just going is the starting point.