CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – For the first time in program history, a Carson-Newman Eagle has received the Kim Moore Spirit Award recipient with Taylor Hayes being this year's Division II honoree, as announced by the Women's Golf Coaches Association on Monday.
The award recognizes and honors a student-athlete or coach who exemplifies a great spirit toward the game of golf, a positive attitude on and off the golf course, a role model for her team and mental toughness in facing challenges. It is dedicated to Kim Moore, who played golf for the University of Indianapolis from 1999 to 2003. She was an inspiration to all as she persevered through many physical challenges while playing collegiate golf. Her positive outlook and dedication toward the game was only outdone by her sense of humor and passion for the game.
Student-athletes nominated for the award are expected to be of high moral character and in good standing at the college making the nomination while also actively participating within the guidelines of the golf program at her respective university.
With the award, Hayes becomes the first South Atlantic Conference recipient.
Hayes wrapped up her final year at Mossy Creek this season as the team's only four-year senior. Transitioning to Carson-Newman, playing on a team focused on one main goal was a new concept for the Lake Ozark, Mo.-native since she had never had that before. Fast-forward four years and you find a senior that became a leader for the women's golf program, both on and off the course.
As she became accustomed to playing for C-N, Hayes also had to get used to a new practice style. Before college, she would typically listen to music while practicing, focusing more on the feel of good and bad shots. Starting her career here, she had to take away the music in practice and work on listening to hits, a technique that required yet another transition.
Hayes has been wearing hearing aids since she was in the fourth grade. While it is something that has never bothered her, she has learned to live with it and not let it affect her play. A self-proclaimed decisive player on the course, she focuses on picking a club, taking a shot and moving to the next. That tenacity paired with zoning out background noises to focus on the feedback from her swings has helped her to find a new focus in her game.
In her time with the Eagles, Hayes racked up the fifth-best scoring average for the program at 78.78 through 78 rounds of play. She was a mainstay for the team since she arrived, taking part in 30 regular season events, two South Atlantic Conference tournaments, picking up second-team and honorable mention All-SAC accolades as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, and serving as a team captain as a junior and senior.
"For me, as her coach, it has been a pure pleasure of being able to coach her and get to know her as a person," Carson-Newman coach Suzanne Strudwick said. "That coach-athlete relationship for some players means more hard work, but with Taylor, it was not at all. I really do feel as if I have a friend for life. Obviously, it's going to slightly change now that she has graduated, but I was able to help her in her career now and being instrumental in helping her get an internship.
"I could not be more proud of her, more pleased for her. There is no one more deserving of all of this than her."
While she has been a leader for the golf team, she has also served as a leader among the Carson-Newman community. Hayes was a Carson-Newman Gold Eagle Scholar throughout her career, an honor given to student-athletes who maintain a 3.75 GPA or higher. She also made the university dean's list every year of her career and was a member of Alpha Lamba Delta, an honor society for first and second-year students with at least 15 credit hours in the first semester and a 3.5 GPA. As a junior and senior, she was a part of Alpha Chi, an honors and service organization open to juniors and senior from every academic discipline made up of the top 10-percent of each class. She graduated in May with a degree in Accounting/Finance while also receiving credit in Master's-level courses during her senior year, allowing her to work toward the next milestone.
Since her junior year, Hayes was a member of the Student Ambassador Association, a group that facilitates meetings between prospective and current students as well as alumni representing Carson-Newman. This year, she has served as the social chair of the group, putting on campus events such as homecoming and other networking opportunities.
"She embodies the entire culture of the team and the school," Strudwick said. "She embodies what we are striving for in trying to build and develop these young people as they come here. We as staff, teachers and coaches have a small part in molding them and helping them develop their own personalities, characters, values, morals and then helping them in their next step in life. It's just amazing when a student is awarded something like this that just brings all of that work to the forefront."
For more news and notes on the C-N women's golf team throughout the offseason, check back to CNeagles.com.