KALAMAZOO, Mich. — With music provided by the Western Michigan University marching band and cheerleaders cheering, Lance Taylor (Choctaw) walked into Heritage Hall with his wife and two young children Friday afternoon to what could only be described as partial cheer. rally and part of the press conference will be introduced as the head coach of the WMU football program.
Friday’s event comes one day after the university announced its 17th head football coaching hire.
Taylor, 41, a member of the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians, a state-recognized tribe in Alabama, fired up the crowd with his fiery conviction to play to win the game. He began his speech with the text “Go Broncos”
“I don’t shy away from lofty goals. We work to be great every day in every way. I work relentlessly every day in every way and set the standard of excellence for our players, coaches and everyone who touches our program,” Taylor said.
During a press conference Q&A, Native News Online asked Taylor how she integrates Native American warfare into her coaching style.
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“I grew up two miles from my reservation and grew up attending powwows, learning about our culture, history and traditions. It was woven and made me who I am today. It’s part of what I do and what I believe in,” Taylor said. “I think that comes out through our program as I fulfill my mission every day. So, I’m proud of my heritage and I love my people and I know they’re proud of me.
University undergraduate Kurt Trevan (Gun Lake Tribe) currently serves on the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees.
“The hiring of Coach Taylor is a huge win for the university and for Indian Country. He is an example of how hard words and determination can pay off and is an inspiration to our Native youth to dream big,” Trevan told Native News Online on Friday.
WMU athletic director Dan Bartholomae told Native News Online that while the university was able to hire the top candidate among the finalists, Taylor was one of the best executives he interviewed with during the selection process.
“One of the things that inspired me was how her Choctaw heritage, the life experiences she gained as a member of the tribe, and her pride in her family’s history influenced her amazing rise to the top of our profession,” Bartholomae said.
The WMU football program is part of the NCAA Division I Football Subdivision and is a member of the Mid-American Conference (MAC).
Taylor is currently the only Native American coach at the Division I level. Jerome Souers (Cheyenne River Sioux) previously served as the head football coach at Northern Arizona for 21 years before stepping down in 2018.
Taylor arrives at Western Michigan University after serving as the University of Louisville’s offensive coordinator through the 2022 season. Prior to his time with the Cardinals, Taylor spent three seasons as the running backs coach and running game coordinator at the University of Notre Dame, leading the Fighting Irish to the College Football Playoff in 2022 and the New Year’s Six Fiesta Bowl in 2021. .
In those three seasons with the Irish, Taylor guided running back Kyren Williams to a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in 2020 and 2021. Williams rushed for 1,002 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. As a redshirt freshman in 2020, he passed for 1,125 yards and 13 scores to earn All-America honors and was a finalist for Freshman of the Year.
Taylor had two coaching stints with the Carolina Panthers where he coached Wide Receivers. In 2013, the Panthers finished 12-4, winning the NFC South.
Between two coaching stops with the Carolina Panthers, Taylor coached the running backs at Stanford, where he coached and mentored Heisman Trophy runner-up Christian McCaffrey and recruited another Heisman runner-up in Bryce Love. McCaffrey and Love hold three of the five fastest seasons in Stanford history. While with the Cardinal, Taylor won a Pac-12 championship, a Rose Bowl and was named the 2015 FootballScoop.com Running Backs Coach of the Year.
Taylor spent the 2010-2012 seasons with the New York Jets as the offensive quality control coach and assistant coach. In the 2010 season, the Jets won their wild card game and their divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots and made it to the AFC Championship Game.
In 2009, he coached wide receivers at Appalachian State, where he led the Mountaineers to set school records with 284 receptions and 3,621 receiving yards. The team finished 11-3, won the Southern Conference title and advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals.
He began his coaching career as an assistant to Nick Saban at his alma mater, Alabama, from 2007-2008.
Taylor played 38 straight games at wide receiver for the Crimson Tide from 1999-2003 before earning a scholarship to Alabama. As a senior, he served as a special teams captain for (then) coach Mike Shula.
Taylor played professionally with the Arena Colorado Crush and Columbus Destroyers from 2004-2006, and with the Green Bay Blizzard and Louisville Fire in AF2.
Taylor graduated from Alabama in 2003 with a degree in management. Taylor’s father, James, also attended Alabama and played running back under legendary head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
The Taylor family owns Alabama’s Mt. Vernon, his wife Jamie, son Jet and daughter Jemma.
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