Parente Made a Great Call to Play Volleyball
Carley Parente played competitive volleyball for the first time as a freshman at North Branford High School, and it didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the sport. Carley has gone on to see success with the T-Birds’ girls’ volleyball team by becoming a varsity starter in her junior year and a now a team captain as a senior.
Carley grew up participating in dance, but decided to stop in her freshman year, because she wanted to be more involved at the high school. Among all the sports she could choose, Carley’s past experiences playing casual volleyball made her want to join the Thunderbirds on the volleyball court.
“My family and I would play a little bit in the backyard. Out of all the sports I could play, that one I probably had the best idea on how to play,” says Carley. “We would play in gym class, and I really enjoyed doing that. I was interested in it and gave it a shot.”
Carley played for North Branford’s JV team during her freshman season. She took a liking to volleyball right away and wanted to practice as much as she could. As she was getting acclimated to the sport, Carley’s teammates made her transition into volleyball all the more easier.
“It was very exciting. I had never played in middle school, so I had nothing to compare it to. But when I got there, it was pretty serious,” Carley says. “The team was really good. I loved everybody. Everybody was super welcome, especially the older kids. It was really fun.”
After playing JV as a sophomore, Carley made the leap to the varsity level during her junior year. Carley found the transition to varsity a bit stressful as the games were longer and the competition more intense. However, with many of her classmates also jumping up to varsity, Carley felt more comfortable as the season went on.
“I knew it was a lot more serious now. I was on varsity. There were a lot of seniors in my grade who were in the same boat,” says Carley. “You’d go from playing best 2-of-3 to best 3-of-5. The games were longer, and the stakes were higher. But we all had each other’s backs. It was a good experience.”
Prior to the 2021 season, anyone who wanted to be one of North Branford’s captains had to give speech regarding why they felt they deserved the role. Heading into her senior year, Carley gave her speech. While she was nervous, she wanted to speak from the heart. Carley reminded her teammates of their past victories and how good they felt. She wanted the team to relive those feelings, while bonding as a family in the process this fall.
As she began her senior season at North Branford, Carley was selected as a captain alongside fellow senior Marissa Ricardo.
“It meant so much to me. Right from the beginning, I wanted to be someone who helped people like they did for me. That was my main thing. I wanted to lift people up,” Carley says. “I always try to keep people’s spirits up. I really wanted to be captain. I wanted to lead them to victory.”
Head Coach Tori Ramada has noticed how much Carley had grown as both a player and a leader after starting with volleyball in her freshman year. Ramada says that Carley is always willing to help out her teammates and that she leaves it all on the court in each practice and every match.
“Carley has been passionate about volleyball since she first came onto our team her freshman year. She has a great sense of knowledge for the game and puts 110 percent into every single point,” says Ramada. “Carley always works on ways to improve as an individual and team player. She is a great leader and works great with the team on ways to be successful on and off the court.”
Carley has spent most of her career as a right side hitter at North Branford. Carley enjoys playing the position as it requires versatility and the ability to fill numerous different roles. In her four years with the T-Birds, Carley’s confidence on the court has grown, and that level up in confidence has made her a stronger volleyball player.
“I was definitely more timid freshman year. I wasn’t exactly sure of what I was supposed to be doing. But I always tried my best and gave everything I had every game,” Carley says. “Now, I’ve played so much, I feel much more comfortable on the court. I’m more able to be the leader I want to be. I feel the confidence is there.”
As a freshman, Carley had a bevy of different sports she could have played at North Branford. Now, as she begins her senior year, Carley knows that she made the best decision by picking volleyball.
“I wanted to feel a part of a team. I definitely feel like that with the volleyball team,” says Carley. “We’re very close. I’ve gotten everything I could have ever wanted out of this.”