Midfielder Taylor Lytle has been a spark off the bench this season for Sky Blue FC, with one start vs. Boston on June 1st. She has scored three goals in the last four games, including the game winner against previously undefeated Portland Thorns FC. Jessie Castillo had an opportunity to sit down with the former Texas Tech standout to talk about her roots and advice she has for aspiring soccer players.
Q: You now have the nickname super sub. How do you respond to that?
A: Well, I laugh about it, but I think it’s good to at least have a name. It’s nice to be able to come off the bench and make an impact in the game, and people are recognizing me for it.
Q: Does that add any pressure?
A: I think everybody has pressure, but honestly I’m happy to get into the game. I don’t really feel the pressure. I just want to go out there and play my best for the team. I am proud of having that nickname and take pride in the way I play, and if people want to call me ‘super sub’ that’s fine because at least I know I am making a difference on the field.
Q: How did you start playing soccer?
A: I started playing when I was six. I have an older brother, and I wanted to be exactly like him, so I started playing because he started playing. I had to be #7 because he was, and play right midfield just like him. I pretty much just followed him around and did everything he did.
Q: When did you decide that your goal was to become a professional soccer player?
A: Honestly, I think the answer is the same for a lot of girls my age. It was the 1999 World Cup. I think that World Cup changed women’s soccer worldwide. At that point in time I knew I wanted to play women’s soccer. My favorite player was Mia Hamm. I loved her; I was obsessed.
Q: What advice would you give to the youth watching you play about becoming a professional soccer player?
A: It takes hard work and patience, and everyone will get her opportunity. You just need to take hold of those opportunities and make the most of them. Also, make sure you have fun while you’re doing it.
Q: Do you think that if a player is good enough to go straight into the professional league they should, or do you feel that college is a necessary step?
A: In my opinion, college is a big step. You go from high school to college, which is a huge jump and then from college to pro is also a big jump. You look at the college girls and the rookies in this league and I think that you can tell who has played for a while and who hasn’t. I would say go to college. It’s a good experience, it’s something good to be a part of, and I definitely think it will help you for the pros.
Q: What are your typical days like as a professional soccer player?
A: Usually we have practice in the morning, which is nice because you get it out of the way. We lift weights twice a week and I’m usually home by 2 p.m. By then I tend to relax and rest. Since we’re so close to New York City we like to visit every once in a while. For the most part, I try to get my body ready for the next day.
Q: How important is this league for the next generation of soccer players?
A: It helps them work towards something and want something. Knowing you are going to wake up every morning and play a sport you love, and have that as your job, I think it motivates young girls to continue playing soccer.
Q: Finally, what are you looking forward to in the future?
A: I am looking forward to this league succeeding. Hopefully, it sticks around for a long time because I know there are a lot of girls who would like to play at the professional level. I had the dream of being a professional soccer player and now I get to live it. Hopefully, they get to live out their dream as well.