The Maria Taylor we know is reporting from the biggest college football stages on ESPN’s Saturday Night Football, analyzing the top stories in sports on NBA Countdown and bringing us closer to teams across the nation on ESPN’s College GameDay. 

But at the 10th annual Women’s Sports Report, presented by OhioHealth, Taylor stepped back to tell stories of her own sports industry experiences, crediting her involvement, dedication and support of women’s sports as a catalyst in her rising career. 2020 WSR Ballroom

“I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do college football or cover the NBA had it not been for my time covering women’s sports,” Taylor said, acknowledging her work at NCAA women’s basketball games, volleyball matches and more.  

Taylor spoke as the keynote of The Women’s Sports Report, an event that gathers community leaders, industry professionals, student-athletes and fans to recognize the impact of sports on girls and women in the Columbus community and beyond. In its 10th year, the event has grown to be a tradition for supporters and student-athletes. 

“It’s remarkable to see how this event has grown over the past ten years, and to have so much community support,” said Linda Logan, executive director of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission. 

With a decade of featuring powerful women on stage, the event has a tradition of providing inspiration to everyone in the audience. But this year, Taylor often spoke directly to the young high school and college student-athletes in the room. 

She explained that no matter what the future holds, the lessons learned from sports can be invaluable. 

“You know how to balance time,” Taylor said. “You don’t have to play in college, but you can apply what you’re learning now to life.” 

Taylor played basketball and volleyball at the University of Georgia before graduating with a degree in broadcast news and becoming one of the fastest-rising stars in sports broadcasting. She said that a key to the industry is the versatility she gained as a student-athlete, explaining that broadcasting requires variance of skill and experience to be successful the same way that being an elite athlete does in order to adapt and grow as a player.  

2020 WSR OHSAA State ChampionsAside from her work on camera, Taylor offers opportunity to the next generation of sports industry professionals through her nonprofit, The Winning Edge, which aims to develop the next generation of minority leaders in sports. When it comes to reporting, she mentions that she rarely has a college football game assignment where she doesn’t have a female student shadowing her.  

“I think it’s important that we continue to push young girls into sports and surround them with coaches and people to inspire and encourage them,” Taylor said.  

The influence of sports on our lives, and the importance of sports for young girls and women, felt more apparent than ever as the Sports Commission shared that it continues to bid on NCAA women’s events, including the NCAA Women’s Final Four in 2025 or 2026. 

If there’s one thing that’s apparent after The Women’s Sports Report, it’s that the culture about women’s sports is growing and flourishing, and Columbus continues to be at the center of it. 

“Sports build leaders, and we’re so fortunate to contribute to that initiative every day,” Logan said.  

The Sports Commission continues to support women in sports all year long through COMMITTED, an event series providing women the opportunity to engage with inspiring professionals and celebrate the power of sport in our community. You can read more about COMMITTED and sign up for its newsletter here.