Winning runs deep in the Stoops' household. Between watching her mother rack up over 700 wins on the volleyball court or father coach high school football teams to deep playoff runs, Taylor Stoops knows what comprises a winning program.
The Waxahachie senior officially signed her National Letter of Intent to continue her volleyball career at University of Arkansas — Fort Smith, which just so happens to be one of the winningest Division II programs in the country.
Stoops, who verbally committed to the Lady Lions before her junior season, penned the commitment Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the Waxahachie High School Fine Arts Center. Her mother and Waxahachie head volleyball coach, Sandy Faussett-Stoops, father and longtime football coach, Blaine Stoops, as well as teammates and friends, joined her for the signing.
The decision to sign with UAFS came down to the basics, explained Stoops.
The Lady Lions know how to win — having already clinched their sixth consecutive Heartland Conference title (125-13 since joining) and not once posting a losing season. Head coach Jane Sargent also has over 600 career wins, coaching Fort Smith to 2014 Final Four and 2015 Elite Eight appearances.
“That’s what I was looking for. I couldn’t go from Waxahachie volleyball and being really successful, into a program that wasn’t as successful. That just wouldn’t work for me,” Stoops said. “[…] They are really good and their coaches are really nice. I really love the coaching staff and the campus. The players were also very welcoming, and I think that had a lot to do with it.”
During her four varsity seasons with the Lady Indians, Stoops set —
and then re-broke — the program record for aces in a season (123 in 2017, 92 in 2016), as well as broke the records for assists in a season (1,143 in 2016) and assists in a match (49 in 2017).
Though the Lady Indians do not track career records, Stoops is sure to be near the top in career assists (3,291), aces (343), service points (1,119) and sets played (531).
“I’m so excited and very proud that Taylor is going to have an opportunity to play at the next level,” Faussett said. “She has worked extremely hard in both school ball and club to develop into a strong player, so I am happy that all her hard work has paid off. I’m thrilled that she will be attending University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, a strong program that has a great winning tradition. She verbally committed before that start of her junior year, so I am glad the day is finally here where she gets to make it official.”
As Stoops transitions into the next chapter of her volleyball career, she will enter a locker room and program coached by someone other than her mother for the first time since she took the court with the Waxahachie junior high program six years ago.
The move will be bittersweet, she said.
“It has been very, very special but it has also been hard at times," Stoops admitted. "When she gripes at me or tells me to do something I take it harder than I probably should because she is my mom. But I wouldn’t honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything because I love her.”