The transition from Boston College to Virginia Tech wasn’t always easy for Taylor Soule. In fact, it was very challenging at times. But she was the piece the Hokies were missing.
Chestnut Hill is a little over two hours south of West Lebanon, N.H., Soule’s hometown. She attended Kimball Union Academy where she played basketball and soccer. But she wasn’t highly recruited or sought-after.
“I watched film of myself and I was like, ‘Are you sure [I can play Division I]?’” Soule said in an interview with Tech Sideline. “Like, ‘This is what it takes to be a college athlete?’ And obviously, from my 18-year-old self to my 23-year-old self, I’ve gotten a lot better, and now I do realize that I deserved it.”
Former Boston College head coach Erik Johnson recruited her to the Eagles, but he and BC parted ways before Soule arrived. Joanna Bernabei-McNamee took over, and Soule stayed. She was part of a huge freshman class.
Over four years, she eclipsed 1,500 points and earned All-ACC honors her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She made great relationships along the way and met her best friend, Clara Ford.
“I think what I liked most about my time at Boston College is how it challenged me academically, as a person and as a basketball player every day,” Soule said. “And I had a great support staff around me to guide me through all of those challenges. But [I’m] definitely forever indebted to Boston College.”
However, at the end of the 2021-22 season, she wanted to challenge herself in a different way. She wanted to play with the best and have an opportunity to compete for championships.
When Soule entered the transfer portal on April 29, she immediately popped up on the radar of Kenny Brooks and Virginia Tech. Ford was already headed to Blacksburg — she signed on April 21 — and Brooks did his best to pitch Soule on joining an already loaded cast of characters.
But to his surprise, he didn’t really have to do anything. Soule already knew she wanted to be at Virginia Tech. And in May, she joined a team that included ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley, Georgia Amoore, Cayla King and Kayana Traylor, among others.
“It was just a gut feeling,” Soule said back in November. “Obviously, I’ve been able to play against Virginia Tech for four years, and so you kind of get a sense on the other side [of] what they’re capable of, the type of people they are.”
The Tech players wanted to play with her, too. When Boston College played in Blacksburg on Feb. 6, 2022, Soule was at the free throw line when Kitley turned to Amoore and said, “I wish we had someone like Soule.”
It took her a minute to adjust to the Hokies’ style of play once she arrived, though. At BC, she was the focal point, and she was used to jumping passing lanes on defense and using her athleticism to create plays. Tech’s philosophies were different, and her play was inconsistent early in the season.
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“I think it was honestly just adjusting to the system,” Soule said of her early season struggles. “I’d like to consider myself a big team player, so I was all for whatever I had to do to kind of fit in and help out the team. I think off the floor, it was really easy because they’re really great girls and they’re kind, they’re compassionate, they’re encouraging. They helped me out anytime I needed.
“It definitely translated on the basketball court knowing that even though I may have been struggling, they always wanted to instill confidence in me.”
In the 13 games in November and December, she scored in double figures six times and averaged 5.6 rebounds per game. But she was on and off.
After an 18-point outing vs. Nebraska, she had four points at Tennessee and nine in her return to Chestnut Hill. And though she responded with two 20-point games against UNC Asheville and High Point, she struggled vs. Notre Dame, recording five points on 2-of-13 shooting.
After a Jan. 8 loss at Miami, she and Brooks had a heart-to-heart, which Brooks mentioned a few weeks later after Tech’s defeat at Duke on Jan. 26. Soule didn’t play well in Coral Gables, and Brooks was blunt with her.
“She was kind of floating and she wasn’t focused as much as she needed to be focused,” Brooks said then. “And ever since then, she’s been watching film with me, we’ve been doing extra workouts and we’ve been talking a lot [about] what we need from her, and she’s played exceptionally well in the four games since the Miami game when she wasn’t doing well. So, I’m very proud, I’m very pleased with what she’s doing.”
Since that conversation, Soule’s on another level. Consequently, the Hokies are 14-1. The lone blemish was in Durham on a night when Soule was fantastic (19 points, 6-of-11) and the rest of the team struggled.
It took her some time to adapt to the style of basketball Virginia Tech wanted to play. She had to learn to complement Kitley, Amoore, King and Traylor. And over time, she did that with their help. Brooks said she accepted the challenge.
“She embraced it, followed suit with it, and she’s been much better ever since,” Brooks said. “I love having her on the floor, she just brings in a dynamic that we’ve never had here. She’s a tremendous athlete. If she played for Brent Pry on the football team, she’d be Micah Parsons.
“She’s been instrumental to our success this year. She was the missing piece; she was what we needed to get us over the hump, to make us an elite basketball team.”
Soule’s addition was a win-win for everyone. Her energy is unmatched in everything she does, and her ability to stretch the floor at 5-11 and guard every player on the court is something not many teams have. At the same time, she’s elevated everyone else around her.
Soule hasn’t scored 20-plus night-in and night-out, but that’s not why she was recruited to Blacksburg. She’s an elite defender who can go off when needed; just ask Louisville, who Soule dropped 13 points on in the second half on 6-of-8 shooting. She runs the floor better than just about anyone in the country, and she was crucial in the Hokies’ ACC championship. And they wouldn’t have a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament without her contributions.
Soule’s remained the same person all the while. She’s the spark Virginia Tech needed, and her passion is unmatched. And though she’s more than 12 hours away from New Hampshire, she feels right at home in Blacksburg.
“This is definitely what I dreamed of,” Soule said after Tech was announced as a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. “Did I ever think it was going to be in Blacksburg, Virginia? Absolutely not, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.”
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Excellent article. Insightful and timely. I’ll watch her (and the team) with a better-informed perspective now. Thank you!
Brook’s skill is he understands players, he described the team as a group of introverts so Soule was a great addition someone who can pull the team out of being too technical when sometimes you just need to enjoy yourself and just play. Doesn’t hurt that she’s pretty good too, you could build a winning team around someone like Soule, so that gives VT two modes of play, what they’ve been doing and/or team Soule driving to the basket. It doesn’t bother me that she gets into foul trouble on occasion, VT needs someone who sticks her nose in there and disrupts the other team. Shame Osusu’s not been in there lately, could have had a three look beast.
She is the soul of the team!
I remember Kenny saying she was the extravert on a team of introverts. She’s a fun player to watch.
Every team in the country needs a player like Taylor Soule – until you see her in person you don’t realize how much more athletic, dynamic, smooth, and aggressive she is compared to all the other players on the floor (on both teams). When she learns to really focus and make the best basketball play (not just the most impressive OMG play) she will really start taking over games. Hopefully for VT that will happen over the next three weeks. Against the top teams the Hokies are going to need her physical presence, but Soule will have to be very disciplined to stay on the court – too much passion and she will be sitting with CKB for extended periods of the game.
+1. When she is on the court she is the most athletic player but “When she learns to really focus and make the best basketball play (not just the most impressive OMG play) she will really start taking over games.” Exactly! This focus could go a long way to help with consistency from game to game too.
Hokies needed her athleticism.
So glad you decided to write this. I have been saying this all year. What an amazing athlete and what a perfect fit for our team. She is the biggest piece to our success this season. Absolutely love her energy and her enthusiasm. She has a gear that just about nobody else has in the sport.
She made all the difference in the 2nd half of the finals as she gave us another dimension and that was too much for Louisville.
Kitley, Amoore, AND Soule? That’s a rare, championship level offensive threat. A pleasure to watch and I’m not betting on anyone to stop them.
Excellent. Glad Tech got some Soule! I look forward to watching the women in the tournament!
What a GREAT article, David. Good job!!!!
Very good article. Soule will be a key to success in the NCAA but as we have a limited bench, each starter and Gregg are very important also.
So glad she’s getting her due.
This is a great article. Perhaps your best.
She was physicality that had been missing. So glad she became a Hoklie
She sounds like both a very nice and well grounded person. Glad to have her and yes, she was the missing piece.
I knew she was the missing piece because of the way she can spread and run the floor. Just need to stay out of the quick foul trouble like in the ACC tourney. She can be the key to making a deep run in the Big Dance.
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