St. Louis University alum Taylor Paulson has signed a contract to play professionally with Nurmon Jymy in Seinajoki, Finland. After a brief tryout, the 6’2″ (188 cm) middle blocker from Louisville, Kentucky was signed on to finish the season with the club that competes in Finland’s 1-series: the top division below the Championship League in the country.
“I hope to play at least a year or two in Europe before returning home,” Paulson said of where she hopes to go. “It’s such a wonderful opportunity to be able to experience other parts of the world while playing the sport I love. I would love to stay and play as long as possible but I also have to join the real world at some point and work towards my other aspirations in life, such as orthopedic sales.”
Paulson is expected to make her debut against on January 8th against Etta in a battle of two teams near the top of conference 1 in the league. Nurmon Jymy currently sits at 10-2 with 29 points for 3rd in the table, while Etta is 11-0 with 30 points. Both trail Kuortane, though they have the advantage of having already played 14 games. Etta won the teams’ previous matchup this season 3-0.
“I have never been to Europe before so I am excited to learn about other cultures and experience life outside of the United States,” Paulson said. “I was nervous coming to a foreign country whose primary language is not English, but I could not have asked for a more welcoming team. They are all so friendly and helpful. They try so hard to speak English all the time so I feel included, which I appreciate more than they know. I am excited to be a part of this team and finish out the season with them.”
Paulson is the only American on the team, and one of only two non-Finns on the team – the other being Montonegran Maja Krljic, who did attend college in the United States.
Paulson completed her degree in communications at St. Louis University in December, freeing her to pursue a professional career. St. Louis used her heavily in attack out of the middle, where she averaged 1.91 kills/set. Statistically, her senior season wasn’t her best – she hit just .229 (below her four-year average of .296) and had just 82 blocks (the fewest since her injury-hampered freshman season). She did improve her back-row play, though, with career highs in both aces and digs as a senior, while the team leaned heavily on the country’s top hitter Danielle Rygelski offensively.
Rygelski at present does not plan on pursuing a professional career – instead focusing on completing her degree in education and teaching in the St. Louis area.
“We are excited about this opportunity for Taylor,” Saint Louis head volleyball coach Kent Miller said. “She has worked hard to become the best possible collegiate player she could be and is completely prepared to play at the next level. We look forward to following her success as a professional player.”
Paulson announced the news on her Instagram account earlier this week:
“Today, I start my professional volleyball career. I am both nervous and excited, but I wanted to take this time to say thank you. Thank you to my family for everything and loving me through the good times and bad. Thank you to all of my coaches and teammates for helping shape me into the player I am today. And thank you to anyone that has supported me in my endeavors. I never could have accomplished this by myself. May the journey begin. Off to Finland!”
Today, I start my professional volleyball career. I am both nervous and excited, but I wanted to take this time to say thank you. Thank you to my family for everything and loving me through the good times and bad. Thank you to all of my coaches and teammates for helping shape me into the player I am today. And thank you to anyone that has supported me in my endeavors. I never could have accomplished this by myself. May the journey begin. Off to Finland!