Tayler, meet Soucie

Tayler Soucie and the Kuhn family.

• Cousins of KU associate head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn name daughter after Tayler Soucie.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Tayler Soucie plays with an enthusiasm and determination that is not only influential to her teammates, but to everyone watching. During Saturday’s win at West Virginia there was someone special watching – Tayler’s namesake, Soucie Jean Kuhn. 

Tayler, a two-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team honoree and reigning Big 12 blocks leader, has formed a spotless reputation for the 9th-ranked Jayhawks as a hard worker with unmatched energy and vocal leadership – all with a coachable attitude.

Those characteristics attracted Tayler to be recruited by KU and associate head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn. In the fall of 2012 Tayler signed with KU as a part of Bird’s first recruiting haul on head coach Ray Bechard’s staff.

In turn, those same characteristics inspired Bird’s cousins, spouses Brett and Katie Kuhn, to name their first-born child after Tayler Soucie. Seven-month-old Soucie Jean Kuhn, born in Columbus, Ohio – just hours away from KU’s match at West Virginia on Saturday – met Tayler for the first time before KU’s win in Morgantown. 

Bird’s family has always kept tabs on her volleyball career – from her start as a standout student-athlete at Georgia Tech to quickly elevating in the high-level coaching ranks. Her cousins were particularly avid followers of the Jayhawks’ televised home matches on ESPN3.

“Ever since Bird came to Kansas we have been watching KU’s matches, and Tayler stuck out as the most energetic player of the court,” Katie said. “Tayler and I are both very positive and competitive people, and watching her play – she is into every point. She is really fun to watch. Bird obviously has the inside-scoop, and she speaks very highly of Tayler.”

As a volleyball coach at Ohio Northern, Katie knows good volleyball when she sees it. She, like her cousin Bird, saw that and more in Tayler.

“It’s definitely an honor to have someone name their child after me – a name is a big deal,” Tayler said. “The fact that Brett and Katie watched me play and from that decided that my attitude and character is an aspiration for what they want in their child – it’s the best compliment you can receive.”

Tayler will have the chance to inspire many more fans in the weeks to come as the Jayhawks put the final touches on an unprecedented regular-season and prepare for the NCAA tournament. No. 9 Kansas (24-2, 12-2 Big 12) travels to Manhattan on Wednesday to face Kansas State, followed by Senior Day against Texas Tech on Saturday in Lawrence.

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