Elana Meyers Taylor played softball at George Washington University before becoming one of the world's top bobsledders and a decorated Olympian.
Every year, she still watches the Women's College World Series, but not as a former player enjoying the games. She's looking to spot a potential teammate.
In recent years, Meyers Taylor has headed up one of the most crucial components of the U.S. women's bobsled team: the identification and recruitment of potential bobsledders, most of whom have never competed in the sport or even considered it.
In the United States, not enough athletes grow up bobsledding to field a competitive national team, so the federation must seek out athletes and convince them that their path to the Olympics will come inside a sled, careening down a giant, icy track.
"It's the most important thing," USA women's bobsled coach Sepp Plozza said. "You never can have enough people and athletes coming in to try out. That's what we live for."
If recruiting is the lifeblood of USA Bobsled, then Meyers Taylor might be the sport's John Calipari. Plozza estimated that Meyers Taylor has recruited 70 percent of the current national team. The squad has been settled for the past year or so, but before that, Meyers Taylor said, she would contact more than 100 women per year, reaching out to coaches, administrators or directly to athletes.
"I'm not shy," Meyers Taylor said. "I am willing to take a thousand [answers of no] if it leads to one more Aja Evans, if it leads to one more Kehri Jones. I'll do whatever I need to do to bring more athletes to the sport."
Track and field is fertile ground because the speed and power demanded in those sports make good bobsledders, too. Evans, for example, sprinted and threw the shot put, an ideal combination of speed and strength.
"If you're not coming from track and field, usually you're missing speed, and that's really hard to gain," Plozza said. "Strength, you can always get. Speed, that's what we're looking for."
Still, Meyers Taylor scans other sports with equal vigor because bobsled has attracted all manner of athletes. Lauren Gibbs, who won two silver medals with Meyers Taylor this season in World Cup events, played volleyball at Brown and started a career in sales before trying bobsled. She said if she could convince any athlete in the world to try bobsled, it would be tennis champion Serena Williams.
"Bobsled is such a unique sport because there really isn't one ideal body type," said 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Greubel Poser, who competed in the heptathlon and pentathlon at Cornell. "We all come from such diverse backgrounds."
"It doesn't matter where you come from, what sport," Plozza said. "If you get some strength and some speed, we can get it done."
Meyers Taylor's most high-profile recruit came from track and field. She started trying to entice hurdler Lolo Jones to try bobsled in 2010, but Jones rebuffed her. Once, they shared a limo to a Women's Sports Foundation event, and Jones started toying with her phone in order to avoid Meyers Taylor's insistence. But Meyers Taylor wouldn't quit asking and finally, after the London 2012 Olympics, Jones agreed. In the 2016-17 season, Jones and Meyers Taylor won two World Cup silvers together.
"She was a hard one to get," Meyers Taylor said, "but we got her."
Meyers Taylor's relentlessness helps make her an effective recruiter, but her pitches are more persuasive than annoying because she's so easy to like.
"It's just the way she is," Plozza said. "She's really approachable and really nice. She's one of the greatest in the sport of women's bobsled in history, and she's still so down to Earth. She talks to people, and she's able to motivate people to try out."
Poaching athletes from other sports requires a deft touch. An invitation to try bobsled could come with an indelicate implication: that the athlete in question needs a secondary route to the Olympics because she couldn't make it in her chosen sport.
Meyers Taylor, though, is quick to assuage those concerns. She ensures prospective bobsledders that trying a new sport doesn't mean giving up on an old one. She is living proof: Meyers Taylor trained with the U.S. rugby sevens team until concussions forced her to choose between sports.
"I don't put limits on anybody," Meyers Taylor said. "The athletes we recruited, we're not recruiting just people who are not good enough in track and field. We're trying to go after the top athletes in the world."
The search for athletes in other sports, particularly track and field, has created a team with remarkable diversity compared with other winter sports. While the U.S. Winter Olympic team is overwhelmingly white, seven of nine athletes on the current women's national bobsled team are minorities. That, though, is only an accident.
"I've made an effort to recruit fast," Meyers Taylor said. "I don't care what you look like. I just want fast. Most of the time, I go off NCAA track and field lists. I've also reached out to strength and conditioning coaches. It just so happens most of the athletes are of color. I really do not care what you look like. I'm just going for speed."
Said Evans: "We're all trying to shed a light on the sport and the potential of the sport. It's a lack of knowledge. People don't know. I didn't know myself. I think the world is finally catching up. They're realizing there's so much opportunity in a lot of these winter sports."