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Senior Taryn Broughal used her unwavering positive attitude to lead a young Branford volleyball squad this fall. Taryn also turned in a fine campaign with her performance on the court as a middle blocker for the Hornets. (Photo courtesy of Taryn Broughal )
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Taryn Broughal is a big believer in the power of positivity on the volleyball court. It’s an approach that Taryn used to lead the Branford volleyball team as a senior captain this fall. The Hornets fielded a young squad with several athletes who were new to the varsity ranks, and Taryn provided them with plenty of positive reinforcement during trying times. Taryn wants this mindset to become contagious among the Hornets as they continue developing a foundation for a prosperous future.
“I always tried to stay as positive as possible. I know from experience that, when one person gets down, it can affect the whole team, so I wanted to be the person that made sure nobody got down on themselves or was upset with the way they were playing,” says Taryn. “I wanted to be the one who let everyone know that you can always come back and win if you keep the same attitude and don’t let up.”
One of the most important things for Taryn was that her teammates always tried their hardest without worrying about whether they’d make a mistake. If someone did, Taryn made it a point to tell that person to shake it off and get ready for the next play. This was one of the ways Taryn tried to foster growth in a rebuilding program.
“When you see someone make a mistake, you tell them that it’s OK and to brush it off and go on to the next point,” Taryn says. “You make sure they know that nobody is mad at them and that they can always do something to fix their mistake if they stay positive. If they know that they can do it, they will.”
While Taryn was leading Branford with her words, the senior captain also set an example for her fellow Hornets by constantly working hard and dedicating herself to becoming the best volleyball player she can be. Taryn saw some varsity time for Branford as a freshman and a sophomore, before earning a starting position as a middle blocker in her junior year. Taryn learned a lot that season, but wanted to keep improving her skill set. Head Coach Cody Michaels suggested to Taryn that she continue playing during the offseason, and so Taryn joined the Connecticut Juniors club volleyball squad.
For five months, Taryn practiced twice a week with the Juniors and also competed against elite players from various states in tournaments on weekends. Taryn says the extra experience she gained from playing volleyball throughout the winter helped her progress into a better all-around player and a more confident person when she took the floor for her senior season.
“That was one of the best experiences. I learned 10 times more than I ever thought I could. I grew as a player and became so much more confident,” says Taryn. “My abilities soared, and it was exciting to see how much I changed in just a couple of months. I got so much better in such a short amount of time. The coaches were so great, and my teammates became some of my closest friends. It was one of the best decisions I ever made to play club.”
Taryn says that her hitting percentage “went through the roof” during her senior year at Branford. She finished the season with 137 kills, in addition to recording 67 blocks and 54 digs for the Hornets. Coach Michaels was pleased to see how much Taryn improved, along with the way the senior captain led her squad by promoting positive vibes on a daily basis.
“Taryn improved by leaps and bounds from last year. It was like she was a whole different player. Her volleyball IQ increased, and that helps with hitting and producing as a middle blocker. She was really consistent for us this year,” Michaels says. “The first word that comes to mind with Taryn is ‘positive.’ She’s always happy, always brings a lot of energy, and it’s important to have someone like that anchoring a team. She understood that this was a young team, and that we were counting on her to lead our younger players by example.”
Taryn appreciates that she had the opportunity to help shape the future of the Hornets as a senior captain. Taryn believes that Branford has a talented nucleus of up-and-coming players, and she’s eager to see how things unfold for the team in the ensuing years.
“I was so thankful that I got to be a captain and be that voice on the court. I wanted to help everyone out, and it was such a great thing that I was able to help them get through it, while playing on the same court when them,” Taryn says. “We had so many people step into huge roles, and they made such great progress this year. I’m so excited to come back and watch their games the next few years to see much they’ve progressed.”
Taryn loved playing volleyball at Branford High School and feels she matured a great deal as a result. Taryn says one of her favorite aspects of the experience was the family atmosphere that was prevalent on the squad. Now, Taryn wants to find that feeling again by continuing her volleyball career at the collegiate level.
“Playing the sport and getting so close to such a great group of girls and coaches really taught me a lot about how to be a better leader, and it’s definitely made me a better person for sure. I’ve learned how to be a lot more resilient and how to bounce back if I mess up,” says Taryn. “Getting so close with this team the past four years was so great for me. I want to have that for another four years. I want that family connection with a group of girls who all share a common goal and a love for the best sport.”
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