Taylor Reid

"This is a surreal": Taylor Reid returns to Minnesota

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
Bruce Miles
Apr 03, 2023

Taylor Morgan Reid is a Minnesotan through and through. 

So the significance of going back to the University of Minnesota to play volleyball for Athletes Unlimited is something that eludes even her grasp.

“It’s weird,” she said. “It really hasn’t set in quite yet, honestly. I’ve always said, ‘I never get nervous until it’s game time.’ It’s just almost surreal. For so long, so much of my life has been geared toward making it to Minnesota. And so much of my life was at Minnesota. You never really realize or understand or can fathom what your life is like or going to be after college.

“Being able to play back at Minnesota as a professional athlete, ooh, man, it’s crazy because I’ll be able to play in front of my family and my husband’s family. So it’s just like, ‘Wow, this is a surreal, surreal thing to talk about.’”

Reid hails from Blaine, Minnesota, just up the road from the U of M campus, and she’ll be back home on April 4 when the Athletes Unlimited Volleyball Exhibition Tour stops at the home of the Golden Gophers. 

For Reid, the Tour is an opportunity to go home again. For women’s professional volleyball, it’s a chance to showcase the skills of the greatest players in the world on college campuses and grow the sport. 

While she’s tooling around town, Reid may even be able to stop in at Tony’s Diner near campus for a quick bite and say hello to old friends while she’s at it. So it’s the best of both worlds. 

“I think it’s really important because for far too long, professional volleyball hasn’t been in the States,” she said. “We’re not the first, and I know we’re not going to be the only professional team in the States, but just for far too long, we haven’t had it. We haven’t had that representation that, truly, young girls and even collegiate athletes get to have.

“So it’s amazing that we’re able to play against and with some of these collegiate players because they’re just the greatest and just letting them know, ‘Hey, there’s an option. You can come. You can stay here for a little bit if you don’t want to go overseas. If you want to go overseas but you didn’t get that opportunity, there are still other options for you. You don’t have to give up on your dream you have spent so many hours working toward.’ I think it’s just an amazing thing.”

The match between Reid and Athletes Unlimited is one of those right-place, right-time stories. After her college career, she was simply looking for someplace to play – without much success. 

“Truthfully, it was a last-ditch effort,” she said. “Once I graduated, I wanted to play professionally overseas, and I just wasn’t getting the attention that I really was needing to go overseas and be in the middle. I wore a knee brace because I had four knee surgeries, so having that kind of raised red flags for professional coaches.

“I didn’t get enough traction that I really needed to go. I got a contract, but we just – my family and I – just realized that probably wasn’t the best for me. So I just kind of got into my coaching career. I started coaching at the University of Louisville.”

The competitive flame in Reid was still flickering, and she sent an email to Athletes Unlimited essentially saying, “If you’re looking for a middle, I’m definitely here.” She also sent video, and just as she was losing hope, AU got in touch. 

“I had definitely lost hope,” she said. “They said, ‘Hey, we’re going to do a Zoom call for information.’ I was like, ‘I don’t want to have information if I’m not a part of the league. You’ll make me feel really sad.’”

Instead of sadness, there was elation and tears of joy for Reid. 

“They said at the end, ‘We had the Zoom call to let you know you’re going to be a part of Athletes Unlimited,’” she said. “I literally just called my mom and cried. I thought it was over. I thought my dream was never going to happen. The fact that they were able to offer that was so tremendous and so … I could be brought to tears if I thought about it too much because it was such a pivotal moment in my life that I was losing hope in myself and I was doubting myself and all those years that I had trained. It all seemed to be gone.

“Just by the grace of God, he stayed faithful through his promise. He told me he was going to make me a professional athlete, and he stayed true to his word. Although it didn’t look the way I wanted it to, I can still say, ‘Hey, I am a professional volleyball player.’ And my husband likes to say it a lot more than I do. I just like to say, ‘I played volleyball in college.’ He’s like, ‘No. You play now. You’re a professional.’ Yes. It’s just like a great, warm feeling. I’m really appreciative of AU for allowing me to experience a dream.”

Entering her third season of Athletes Unlimited Volleyball, Reid has grown into a leadership role as a member of the Player Executive Committee. She also plays for a cause near and dear to her heart: the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation.  

“The first season it was a little difficult for me to grasp all that they do because it was just a lot going on, and I was still so new,” she said. “I had just left home. I was not really active in that department. As I grew older, the next year, my grandma was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, adenoid cystic carcinoma. When she was diagnosed with that, it was my eye-opening, ‘Wow, AU is doing a lot.’ Being able to play for my grandmother’s research foundation was, ‘Oh my goodness, I can actually do something to help.’ 

“Sometimes there are so many situations where you feel helpless, but Athletes Unlimited was able to offer, ‘Hey, we may not be able to be on the forefront, but we can still do something.’ We can still use what we’ve been using, which is our volleyball and athletic abilities to raise money and raise awareness to whatever we want. I’m really appreciative.

“Being able to play professionally is a blessing, and I’m so grateful that God gave me this ability and gave me this opportunity. And also I’m thankful for founders Jon (Patricof) and Jonathan (Soros) and all of AU for just allowing this dream to come true for so many athletes.”


Bruce Miles has covered sports in the Chicago area for more than 40 years, covering baseball, hockey, football, college and high school sports, and Athletes Unlimited Softball. You can follow him on Twitter @BruceMiles2112.

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