Maria Taylor, a former Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball and volleyball player and now a well-known personality on ESPN and the SEC Network, spoke to a packed ballroom at the Holiday Inn in downtown Athens on Wednesday.
Taylor addressed the group of women who make up Beyond Basketball, an award-winning organization created by Georgia head coach Joni Taylor that serves as a community for women who strive to develop one another both personally and professionally.
“When Joni called me and asked me to be a part of Beyond Basketball, I knew it was going to be a very impactful event,” Taylor said. “I know that the community really rallies around it and I definitely wanted to be a part of it because it is something that is awesome. You are creating a bridge between the athletic association, the women’s basketball team and the Athens community. More importantly, you are empowering women, and I think that was the biggest point of what I wanted to share with this group. I’m so glad that I could be a part of the first one this season.”
Hundreds of women from in and around Athens filled the large ballroom Wednesday morning to hear an inspiring message from Taylor. Of those in attendance, one was current Georgia senior Mackenzie Engram — a journalism major who is mentored by Taylor.
“It means so much to have Maria here,” Engram said. “She is just an awesome person, so for her to take time out of her busy schedule to come and speak to us, I am so thankful for it. For myself being a broadcast major, having her come here to tell her story, it just gives me that confidence boost to go out and accomplish my dreams.”
Beyond Basketball was created during Coach Joni Taylor’s first year as the head coach at Georgia. The group of women meet the second Wednesday of every month to hear from a featured speaker and also discuss events that are happening around Athens. The organization has undergone a sizable growth at it enters its third season.
“This is a great place for women to come together, meet each other, make new friends and share what they have going on,” Joni Taylor said. “It is also an opportunity for them to recharge their batteries. We wanted a space for women to come and just hear from great speakers, whether it is motivational, inspirational or informative and recharge their batteries so that they can go out into their communities and affect change in a positive way.”
Those interested in joining Beyond Basketball can contact Katie Honeycutt in the women’s basketball office via email: khoneycutt@SPORTS.UGA.EDU or phone: 706-542-1541.