Venus Taylor joins the Western Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame after a prolific career for the Westerwinds (now Fighting Leatherneck) softball team from 1994-97. During her career, she led Western to three consecutive regular-season Mid-Continent Conference (now The Summit League) titles from 1995-97.
She has established herself as one of the best players to come through the softball program, holding the school’s single-season records in hits (68), runs scored (50) and stolen bases (42). The outfielder’s 42 stolen bases in 1997 is also the most by any player in Summit League history. In 1997, she was named the league’s player of the year as she led the team to a 31-22-1 record and a conference title.
Taylor graduated in May of 1997 with a degree in physical education and a minor in business management before starting her professional softball career in the summer of 1997. She played for a total of five teams throughout her career including the Carolina Diamonds (1997-98), the Tampa Bay Firestix (1999-2000), the National Pro Fastpitch Tour Team (2001), the New York New Jersey Juggernauts (2002) and the Chicago Bandits (2003). She was selected to the league’s all-star team on two occasions and was a member of two world championship teams (Tampa Bay Firestix, 1999 & New York New Jersey Juggernauts, 2002).
Taylor began her coaching career in 2001 as an assistant coach at Lake City C.C., helping the team win the NJCAA national championship. The following year she became the head coach and led the team to a 47-10 record and a Mid-Florida Conference Title. Taylor also had brief coaching stints at Georgia Tech (2002-03, assistant coach) and at Bradley (2003-05, head coach).
After her coaching and playing career, she began working for her current employer, Wilson Sporting Goods Co., in Chicago, Ill. Taylor’s responsibilities include organizing and developing a marketing and promotional strategy to optimize the Wilson, Demarini and ATEC brands and product awareness in the sport of fastpitch softball. She is also responsible for establishing and negotiating sponsorship agreements with collegiate, competitive, Olympic and professional softball teams. Taylor has signed collegiate teams such as Michigan and LSU as well as signing contracts with Olympic athletes such as Cat Osterman and Crystl Bustos.
Taylor is the ninth member of the softball program to be inducted into Western’s Athletic Hall of Fame. She joins players Jackie Crescio, Sandy Fischer, Wendy Hedberg (basketball, softball and field hockey inductee), Brenda Heyl, Robin McConnell (basketball and softball inductee), Gail Scott, Pat Stoffel (basketball and softball) and Kathy Veroni (former head coach).