By UD Athletics Media Relations Student Intern Vanessa Hannafin

    Born and raised in Hockessin, Delaware, and a graduate of nearby Ursuline Academy with a family full of UD alumni, senior volleyball player Taylor Hollingsworth has Delaware in her blood. She not only shows that pride by sporting blue and gold on the court, she also demonstrates it by sporting her scrubs at the Christiana Hospital where she treats her fellow Delawareans.
    It’s been an interesting journey for Taylor to get where she is. In high school, she played soccer for three years and ran track, even running the 800-meter race in the state meet. As a well-rounded athlete, Taylor surprisingly said she didn’t always know she would pursue sports beyond high school. She first picked up volleyball in eighth grade, and developed a passion for the game and the adrenaline rush that came along with it. However, it wasn’t always a clear match-made-in-heaven between Taylor and her destiny as a phenomenal college volleyball player.
    “I remember my first club tryout, I didn’t know what I was doing!,” Hollingsworth explained. “My parents just told me, ‘keep the ball off the floor.’ After that, I just went insane and I remember leaving there with golf ball-sized bruises on my elbows. I had no technique, but I had told myself that I was going to get after every ball.”
    That go-getter mindset coupled with her natural talent allowed Taylor to pursue volleyball throughout high school, but still, her fate wasn’t always explicit.
    “I was on the later end of figuring out that I wanted to play volleyball in college,” she said. “A lot of people were in the recruiting process much earlier than me. I wasn’t 100% sure because I was still playing other sports in high school and I didn’t know if college volleyball was the right thing for me.”
    This all changed when Taylor traveled to a volleyball tournament her junior year of high school. The first Division l coach to approach Taylor showed great interest in her.
    “That, for me, was a really big eye-opener where I said to myself, ‘Wow, I could actually do this. Maybe I should think more about it,’” Hollingsworth stated. From there, she became proactive and sent out emails to coaches, pursuing her newly-realized goal wholeheartedly.
    Delaware became the school fortunate enough to end up with Taylor on their roster, and the feeling was reciprocated by Taylor upon her arrival.
    “I just loved the culture of the team — they just worked really hard,” she noted. “I have always really enjoyed grittiness and toughness, and when it’s not easy. It was also my home state so it made it that much better to be able to represent the place where I came from, and seeing all family the last three years has been really incredible.”
    Hollingsworth walked on to the team freshman year, but earned a scholarship following her first summer of training after coaches noticed her standout work ethic. She describes it as an “underdog” story, but after looking at her stats, it’s hard to it as see such — the libero/defensive specialist has totaled 1,471 digs, 139 assists and 66 services aces during her collegiate career, and currently ranks eighth in school history in digs. In addition to delivering these performances, she also serves as captain, describing herself as a “lead by example” kind of player.
    “For me, the biggest thing in leadership is motivating other people to be leaders,” Hollingsworth said. “I think a good leader is someone who can just, at times, take the backseat and just push other people along when they need that motivation.” She continues, “It’s always been hard for me to get on someone’s case — I’d rather lead with positivity and encouragement, and always believe up until the last play of the game.”
    Although her path to collegiate volleyball wasn’t always crystal-clear, her path to nursing has been. Taylor worked with A.I. Children’s hospital for two full summers in high school after her mom pointed out that she saw in Taylor some personal qualities that would constitute a great nurse. Taylor then decided to volunteer at the hospital and began to fall in love with it. At an even younger age, Taylor’s father also suffered from cancer, though he has thankfully since recovered. This, she says, was part of what drew her specifically to oncology within the nursing field.
    After beginning her nursing journey with A.I. Children’s hospital, Taylor’s clinicals now rotate between A.I. and Christiana Hospital three days a week.
    “I love being in the hospital setting — how fast-paced it is, how complex the cases are — you always see something new and it always keeps you on your toes,” Hollingsworth explained.
    Working in the trauma unit, she has seen a lot of patients recovering from accidents, and the intricacies of those cases. On a personal note, Taylor has also made strong connections with both nurses and patients. One experience in particularly really stood out to her and solidified how fulfilling nursing is: a young patient had suffered a brain aneurysm, and Taylor spent a lot of personal time with the patient and his mother in the hospital.
    “I just got to know them on a different level,” she said. “His mom was incredible, just one of those moms that was so positive and willing to do whatever it took. These people are in the hospital on some of the worst days of their lives, and I get to be there to help them when they’re going through unexplainable, unimaginable things. That has really touched me — that these are just normal people, that sometimes really bad things happen to.”
    Taylor describes how nurses assume so many different roles depending on what the patient needs at that time, and how rewarding that is: “Every time I go to the hospital and I leave after a clinical day, I just feel like I’m reaffirming my passion for nursing. I’m really excited for the future and what I get to do everyday, and all the possibilities that come along with it.”
    After graduation, Taylor would like to move to Philadelphia to hopefully work with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She wants to work in pediatrics and then go back to school to earn a degree as a nurse practitioner.
    Upon getting an understanding of the balancing act that Taylor performs daily, it’s not surprising that she is often asked how she gets by, managing all that she does.
    “I don’t see it as something that’s extremely hard because I really enjoy what I get to be doing,” Hollingsworth explained. “It makes it a lot easier when you’re passionate about it.”
    Between those “golf-ball sized” battle wounds, and those long hours at the hospital, passion has taken Taylor quite far.