Taylor Durham ’96 calls Elon’s historic CAA Championship appearance

Taylor Durham '96, "The Voice of the Elon Phoenix," was on the call as the Elon men's basketball team took on Drexel for a shot at the CAA title and the first NCAA Tournament bid in program history.

The Elon men’s basketball program was on the cusp of making history in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Tuesday night.

The Phoenix won seven games in a row to earn a spot in the 2021 Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship, where Elon fell short in a 63-56 loss to Drexel. A win in that championship showdown would have earned the Elon men their first CAA Championship title and the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Taylor Durham ’96 prepares to call an Elon men’s basketball game inside Schar Center. (photo by Dan Anderson)

Elon fans from around the world tuning in on the radio to hear the Phoenix take their shot at history heard every play of the game narrated by Taylor Durham ’96, well known as “The Voice of the Elon Phoenix.” In his 12th year as play-by-play announcer for the Elon men’s basketball, football and baseball teams, Durham understood the significance of the historic moment for his alma mater.

“The game feels like a mile marker,” Durham said. “I think there’s a road to progress and I think there’s a road to getting where Elon would like to be – where Elon Basketball would like to be – and I think moments like this are important.”

Elon became the first eighth seed to ever play in the CAA Championship game Tuesday. On its way to the title game, the Phoenix took down top-seeded James Madison and defending champion Hofstra in back-to-back rounds. The team’s historic run came immediately on the heels of an eight-game losing streak early in the season, which Durham says turned around during a trip to the College of Charleston.

“I think you turn back and you start talking about the Sunday afternoon in Charleston – 66-55, the first victory in league play and also a win in a place that’s been difficult to win at in the past,” Durham said.

That win at Charleston sparked the seven-game streak that brought the Phoenix to this year’s conference championship game, and Durham – though broadcasting remotely throughout the season due to the pandemic – was along for every second of the incredible ride. The journey to Tuesday’s historic game had been a long time coming for Durham, who recalls watching Elon finish 8-44 in his first two seasons as a student broadcaster in the 90s.

“You look at how far the program has come, but especially you look at how far the program has moved forward here in the past two years,” Durham said.

Despite the tough loss to Drexel, he’s proud of the work his alma mater has done to get to this point. He says it’s an honor to tell the team’s story from the sidelines, and Durham is especially excited for the fans who have supported the team along the way.

“That’s what makes the potential of [Tuesday evening] really fun because when you get there as a mid-major, it’s an enjoyable thing,” Durham said. “It’s an enjoyable thing for a lot of people.”