Auburn Spotlight, Robb Taylor

AUBURN
SPOTLIGHT
"Focus on the fundamentals, focus on the basics and be able to perform those consistently."
Robb Taylor
Head coach, Auburn's wheelchair basketball team
AUBURN SPOTLIGHT

Spotlight Interview

Robb Taylor, head coach for Auburn’s wheelchair basketball team, came to Auburn in March 2016 after coaching throughout the U.S. since 1999. He also served as the assistant coach for the U.S. women’s Paralympic team for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and was an assistant coach for the gold-winning U.S. men’s Paralympic team for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Tell us about your background and how you became involved with Auburn’s Wheelchair Basketball program.

I have been involved in wheelchair basketball since 1999. I started coaching at the University of Illinois, where I received my undergraduate degree and served as the assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s teams on campus. After graduating, I moved to Arizona and became the head coach of the Phoenix Mercury team. After a couple successful years in Arizona my family and I moved back to Chicago and I became the head coach of the Windy City Warriors, a junior team. Throughout my time with those teams I was also involved with the U.S. National Team. From 2004-2008, I was the assistant coach of the U.S. women's Paralympic team. I was on staff with the team that competed in Beijing, where we won the gold medal. I have been the assistant coach of the U.S men's Paralympic team since 2013 and recently returned from Rio where we won gold.

I was hired by Auburn in March 2016 to help grow and coach the wheelchair basketball team. It is an honor to be a part of the Auburn Family and to help grow and develop the program here.

How has your time at Auburn shaped your love for the sport?

I have only been at Auburn for a short time but the support and help from everyone has been great. It truly is a family environment here, which was really important to me when I was looking to coach at the college level. Everyone has been wonderful in helping with whatever is needed and answering any questions that I have, and they have been great support to our program.

What was your biggest takeaway from being assistant coach for the 2016 U.S. men’s Paralympics team?

Working with the Paralympic team, I have had the chance to work with the best athletes the U.S. has to offer. They are all top level talent, some of the best in the world. Their work ethic, their focus and businesslike approach to practices and games is something to be admired. From a coaching standpoint I want to make sure that I am at the same level as them. I need to make sure that my work ethic, my focus and my approach matches or surpasses theirs. I am going to try to bring that work ethic and that focus to the team at Auburn. The student-athletes on the team deserve that.

What would you tell a member of your team who dreams to play for the U.S. men’s Paralympic team?

For any of the guys on our team or anyone that has dreams for playing on the National Team, my advice is simple. Focus on the fundamentals, focus on the basics and be able to perform those consistently. In the words of Joe Maddon, manager of the Chicago Cubs, “Do simple better.” That is what it comes down to. You do not need to be flashy, you just need to do the simple things very well. Another important part is being coachable and being open to feedback and suggestions. Take that feedback and make the adjustments that are being asked of you. 

What are your long-term goals at Auburn?

The great part about the program at Auburn is we are just beginning to establish ourselves within the College Division of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. There is no other team in the league that has a better facility to practice in than we do at the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. The support that we get from the university is second to none and will allow us to become one of the top programs in the country. We already have a number of top level talents interested in Auburn, and I am optimistic that they will come and help us continue to build the foundation. I envision Auburn becoming a place where high school student-athletes want to come and play. We will be able to put ourselves in a position where we are challenging for a National Championship year after year. Building that foundation now will allow us to have continued success for years to come. That is one thing that I am the most excited about.