Phil Taylor put his extensive experience to work in his first season as the Nantucket Lady Whalers varsity soccer coach and, while the team ended the season 7-9-3, they are well-positioned to continue building and strengthening their skills for next year.
Taylor hails from Liverpool, England and began his soccer career at a young age. His start in a youth academy led him to join a professional club in Liverpool. Unfortunately, at the age of 17, he faced injury and illness and was out of the game for six to eight months. In the next stage of his career, he joined a semi-professional club as a goalkeeper. Afterwards, he went on to college and played for one of the lower professional club leagues. Interestingly, the process of earning a position on the field for a professional team in England is quite different than it is in the U.S., explained Taylor. In England, top players generally join a professional team by the time they are 18 - while in this country, players typically play at the university level as a segway into professional play. If you do not make it into the professional sporting world by the time you are 21 in England, he said, then the chances of reaching that level are very rare.
After his departure from England, Taylor arrived on Nantucket with interest in the men’s soccer league. He refereed and coached several teams in his first years here. He also coached boys and girls as part of the island’s youth soccer program and worked privately with individual players. His consistent involvement in the Nantucket soccer community ultimately led him to his role as coach for the Nantucket Lady Whalers squad this fall.
When asked about this season and his hopes for the future, Taylor reflected on the past 12 months and said that one of his goals is to create easy transitions between each season. He believes that a steady transition and consistent dynamic will be comforting for the players as well as for him - a necessity for success, he claimed.
“I’ve had a good amount of time to evaluate where the program is,” he said. “I’d like to create a system where there’s a more sustainable flow of players, rather than it being a big shock when so many players leave. I’d rather have a more seamless transition. That would be the ultimate goal - and obviously, making playoffs and not just competing in playoffs but trying to win overall.”
Taylor is proud of the way the young team played, noting that Whalers lost several very strong players last year. Looking ahead to next year, he is confident that this year’s team, which was made up of three eighth graders, 14 freshman, four sophomores and eight juniors, will be a tough team to beat next year. “The future is bright,” he noted optimistically.