Senior midfielder Taylor Swope is about doing the little things.
From penalty corners to leading the midfield and offensive attacks, Swope can be found all over the field. She doesn’t play just one role. She plays nearly all of them.
Swope will never overpower her opponent, but her scrapiness and attention to detail has made her one of IU’s most productive players this season, even if the stats don’t reflect it.
She said she knows her place as a field hockey player.
“Just hustling is always something that’s been important to me,” Swope said. “Whether it be playing every ball out or running my fastest during practice. I’ve just let the game be something I could learn from."
In plain sight, Swope doesn’t come off as a Division I athlete. Standing just 4 feet 10 inches tall, Swope is far and away the shortest girl on IU’s roster. In fact, the next shortest player on IU’s roster is still 3 inches taller than Swope.
“It contributes to my style,” Swope said. “I utilize my speed on the field a lot which people don’t often realize since I have shorter legs. Being short, it’s not as much of an obstacle as it seems.”
IU Coach Amanda Janney Misselhorn came to IU the same season Swope started her college career. Yet, the two were unfamiliar with each other. Swope was originally recruited by then-IU Coach Amy Robertson yet stuck with the Hoosiers after the coaching change because of her love for the University.
Throughout the past four years, Janney Misselhorn has watched Swope grow into one of her most valuable assets. Swope quietly goes about her business, whether on the field or not, doing exactly as she’s asked.
“She hustles and she’s a hard worker and every time she steps on the field she wants to learn and be coachable,” Janney Misselhorn said. “That’s something that I’ve appreciated is that she asks a lot of questions and we’ve seen improvement especially in her senior year.”
During her four years here, Swope has played in 67 games, starting 38 of those. She has four goals and six assists through 67 games, good for 14 career points.
In addition to that, Swope has contributed on defense with tackles, defensive assists, deflections and a whole array of stats that aren’t as flashy. She was the 2017 recipient of the team’s Hustle Award, acknowledging the hardest working player on the field that season.
All this productivity led her to be voted one of the team’s captains this season along with fellow senior defender Elle Hempt and junior midfielder Ciara Girouard.
Janney Misselhorn has acknowledged the level of leadership the senior class has brought this year to her young team. IU started two freshmen at the beginning of the year, forward Hailey Couch and midfielder Jes McGivern. With only four seniors, this year’s squad is one of the least experienced in her short tenure as coach.
At times it’s shown. During a five-game losing streak earlier this season, Janney Misselhorn called for the seniors to step up and turn the tide of the team's season.
Swope answered the call.
“These four seniors have had outstanding leadership these four years and we keep showing that to our underclassmen,” Janney Misselhorn said. “They’re great in the classroom, on the field and with community service. You couldn’t ask for better leaders this season, and we just hope we can end on a positive note for them.”
During IU’s match against Michigan State on Oct. 5, Swope took the ball late, 45 yards out from net, and weaved between defenders before finishing a game-winning goal to give the IU its first conference win since 2016.
These past four years haven’t produced the results Swope would’ve wanted. IU stumbled to a 4-12 record this year following a 6-13 campaign last season. Barring a miracle in the Big Ten Tournament, IU will miss the NCAA Tournament for the fourth and final time in Swope’s career.
Nonetheless, Swope said she has learned to continue fighting harder and to control only the things that you can control. She said she always knows there’s something small you can work on that will contribute to a greater whole.
“You just continue to have hard practices and believe you can have those big wins,” Swope said. “I know we didn’t have any Big Ten wins last year, but this year we have one so that’s an improvement. You have to be ready at all times.”
Even after four years at the highest level of collegiate field hockey, Swope continues working on the minute details. That attention to detail and work ethic has carried Swope from a sporadic role player as a freshman to perhaps Janney Misselhorn’s most productive and valuable player.
“Just in the span of the game, I believe the little things lead to the big victories,” Swope said. “Cheering on the sidelines and making small tackles can sometimes be as important as goals. I really embrace having those little victories because they lead up to those big moments."
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