The Next Big Thing: Taylor Sadek

Shanghai American School Puxi campus senior Taylor Sadek '22 is passionate about all things sports. She’s an active soccer and basketball player, president of the Physical Therapy club, and works closely with SAS’ Activities Council as part of their newsletter committee, writing spotlights on fellow athletes as well as students from the performing arts. But rugby is what she’s most known for, and rugby is what is taking her to her dream school in the fall. Come next year, Taylor is heading to Dartmouth, where she will be practicing and playing against some of the very best on the fields.

Congratulations on your acceptance! Tell us a little about it.

I will be heading to Dartmouth in New Hampshire in the fall of next year, where I’m being recruited as a D1 rugby player. I’m going under the condition that I maintain the same academic rigor that I have throughout my high school, and under the condition that I continue to be the best self that I am right now for my program. In the US, you don’t necessarily have to choose a major until a few years into your college career, but I’m also going in interested in Sports Medicine or Sports Science.

How was your application process to Dartmouth like?

Being recruited as an athlete is slightly different because you not only submit your transcripts, your grades…you also submit an application for your athletics. For me, I filled out a lot of questionaries on things like the position I play, my height, my weight. I created an account on a video-sharing platform and sent videos of myself playing, got recommendations from my coaches, and created a rugby resume, which was what they took a look at first, to see if I’d be a good fit. When they decided they’d possibly be interested in having me go play for them, they started looking at my academics.

Without COVID, this process might have been a lot easier, because I could go to camps in the US to get looked at, to join competitions where scouts would come to see you play live. But being here, I couldn’t do all that, so I had to work really hard to film all my games and practices, even film games that were not rugby-related, just to show to them how passionate I am about being seen and heard.

When did you realize that rugby was something that you were passionate about and something you could go on to pursue?

My mom has always loved touch rugby. Touch rugby is different from contact rugby, which I play, but she would take me to her games, and I’d sit on the sidelines with my dad. So she was really what initiated this love for sports.

When I was in seventh grade, I saw people playing (rugby) and they looked like they were having fun. This was a high school team, so technically you weren’t allowed to play until ninth grade, but I went up to the athletic director at the time and said “hey I’m really interested! Can I just come and practice with you?” And he let me. So it was me, a seventh grader, with a bunch of high schoolers, which was kind of intimidating, but everyone was so helpful and nice. I really felt like I belonged there.

Then between eight and ninth grade, I went to a camp at Bowdoin College, where I met some people who were really important to the rugby community there. I got some awards, made even more friends, and started realizing…this wasn’t just a community in Shanghai, but a community made up of people from all over the world. I think it was then that I first started thinking, I could go somewhere with this. That was when I really fell in love with both the game and the community that came with it.

Tell us about that moment you found out you got into Dartmouth.

I was sitting in my living room with my mom and my dad. They sent an email that said “your letter is ready. If you log on, you’ll be able to see it,”. So, we had a few minutes to prepare ourselves. My mom was like “we need to film this.” When I logged on to the Dartmouth portal, there were all these little fireworks confetti and on the website, it said “congratulations!” I immediately got up and started dancing!

I don’t think people realize how proud of yourself you feel…I didn’t realize until that moment, that I was really proud of myself and so extremely happy that I got to choose Dartmouth, and that Dartmouth chose me. Both my parents are super happy for me. My sister is really proud of me. I’m just really excited to continue making them proud. 

What are you looking forward to the most about college life?

I’m really looking forward to the rugby community there. I’ve met some of the girls in the program already, over social media. They seem really welcoming, and really similar to me, they’re really passionate about the sport. I’m excited to find a whole new group of friends, and build some sort of family there. 

I’m also really excited for the academics side of Dartmouth. They have really great facilities, really great professors and teachers, who I know will help me go where I hope to go in the future.

And what will you miss about SAS and Shanghai?

Over my seven years here at SAS, I’ve gotten to know a lot of amazing people, who have really supported me and have had my back. It takes a village, and it surely took a whole village for me to get to where I am now. I’m so grateful to all those people who held my hand along the way, and they will be the ones I miss. I’m going to miss my parents and my sisters too, and my puppy. I’m also going to miss the team here, of course.

And lastly, as a female athlete, do you have any words of advice to fellow junior female athletes who may be thinking of pursuing a path similar to yours?

I want to tell them to just go pursue what they love. There are so many ways and so many excuses you can make to not do something. It’s so easy to come up with excuses that say you can’t. Figure out how you can. If you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing, if you truly want to go somewhere, figure out how you can do that. There are so many people who are willing to support those who want to pursue their dreams, you just have to find them. Try your best not to let your head fall down. You need to keep your head up, keep looking to where you want to go, and eventually, you’re going to get there.

Congratulations on getting to your dream school Taylor, and for the opportunity to keep on doing what you love doing. Dartmouth is so incredibly lucky to have someone so passionate and excited about the sport on their team.

Our seniors are off to amazing places around the world, and we are excited to be sharing those stories. Keep an eye out for our next edition of “The Next Big Thing”.

Hear more of Taylor's story below:

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