Polk County's Caroline Taylor signed a letter-of-intent Tuesday to play soccer at Spartanburg Methodist. Joining Taylor were, front row from left, brother Thomas Taylor, mother Jennifer Taylor and PCHS head coach Lennox Charles, and back row, from left, athletic director DeShane Briscoe and principal Michelle Bean.

As recently as a couple of years ago, Caroline Taylor wouldn’t have imagined sitting in Polk County’s auditorium and celebrating her future college athletic career.

A multi-sport athlete, Taylor had seen ample playing time early in her Wolverine tenure in both volleyball and soccer. She enjoyed both sports, but neither seemed to be calling her to consider a college career.

Then, something clicked, and soccer became Taylor’s passion, a love affair that led to her signing a letter-of-intent Tuesday to continue playing the sport at Spartanburg Methodist College.

An unexpected, but completely joyous, turn of events.

“Today means the world to me,” Taylor said.”A year ago, I would not have known that this was where I would be. I’m really proud of myself.

“It took a lot of work in the past year because I didn’t end up loving the sport until a short while ago. I played my whole life, but I didn’t start loving it and wanting it to be an everyday thing until a couple of years ago. So I’m just really thrilled to get to play at the next level.”

Taylor led Polk County in scoring last season, tallying 14 goals and four assists. She has played more of a distributor role in midfield this season for Polk, recording eight assists. She scored twice Tuesday night for the Wolverines in their 4-1 win at East Rutherford to reach five goals for the season.

The route to Spartanburg began shortly after Taylor’s sophomore year at Polk, when she decided to leave the Wolverine volleyball program and concentrate on her spring activity.

“I had coaches telling me, you’re good at this, you can keep going,” Taylor said. “So I decided to quit volleyball and just focus on soccer completely, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

The decision came with dedication, and Polk County head coach Lennox Charles said that helped turn Taylor into a college prospect.

“To get to this point, you have to do a lot of work, and Caroline certainly has done a lot of work,” Charles said. “She did a lot of individual work to get herself to where she wanted to be. She’s definitely earned this opportunity, and we’re extremely happy for her.”

Spartanburg Methodist posted a 9-4-2 record in the 2023 season, reaching the Region 10 tournament final. Head coach Kyle Campbell has led the Pioneers to region titles in two of his three seasons, compiling a 31-11-3 record.

“I love the coaches,” Taylor said. “The head coach is really amazing. He showed up to one of my high school games and is putting a lot into me and I’m really grateful for that.

“I like the atmosphere there. I’ve met a couple of the girls, and they’ve said they’ve had a great time. I like it being close to home and being a smaller college. Everyone seems really close, and I like that more than being at a larger school.”

Taylor plans to study business administration at SMC. She’s less certain as to where she will be playing for the Pioneers, but also less concerned.

“I will gladly play any position they want me to play,” she said with a laugh.