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East Haven volleyball alum Amanda Bradley is back with the Yellowjackets as a varsity assistant coach and the head coach of the their JV team this fall. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Bradley )
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A familiar face is joining the coaching staff with the East Haven volleyball squad this fall. Amanda Bradley, a 2013 graduate who played volleyball at the high school, is back with the Yellowjackets as a varsity assistant and head coach of their JV team.
Amanda was a three-time All-Division selection who made All-State and All-Area as a senior. She finished her senior year with 282 kills, 110 digs, 42 aces, and 23 blocks. Amanda was also a four-year varsity player for East Haven’s basketball and softball programs.
“I’ve always grown up playing sports. Being an athlete is who I am. I’m passionate about the game, and it’s such an adrenaline rush on the court,” Amanda says. “Being back is pretty cool. I like working with these girls to kind of give them that same experience I had.”
After she graduated from East Haven, Amanda went on to play Division I volleyball at Marist College. She recorded 72 kills while playing big minutes in her junior and senior seasons.
“It was definitely a goal of mine to be able to pursue my athletics career outside of high school. To play Division I volleyball at Marist was a surreal experience,” says Amanda. “Volleyball is such a small sport in terms of team members. We only had 15 girls, and we traveled together so much, so that bond and the memories we made was something I will always cherish and remember.”
Amanda continued to play volleyball after graduating from Marist in 2017. She moved to Wilmington, North Carolina for a job opportunity and started playing beach volleyball.
“I got involved in a beach league. It was either fours or sixes, and we competed in tournaments,” Amanda says. “It was cool to continue playing. Obviously, it wasn’t as competitive, but it was still awesome.”
This summer, Amanda returned to East Haven and was contacted by Yellowjackets’ Athletic Director Anthony Verderame. Following some conversations with Verderame and volleyball Head Coach Craig Brown, Amanda hopped on board as a member of the coaching staff.
“They were telling me how they were looking for a JV coach and how he would love for me to come in and talk,” says Amanda. “They offered me the position because I’m an alumni. Everything that I accomplished, they were excited, and that made me excited. I love working with the team.”
This year marks Amanda’s first time coaching a team, although she gained some experience by teaching the fundamentals of volleyball through youth clinics and camps at Marist.
“The Marist volleyball program ran a bunch of camps and accelerated programs. The girls on the team would come before our preseason and teach hundreds of girls,” Amanda says. “This is definitely a different experience. For me, it’s not just about having a positive impact on them by teaching them the fundamental skills, but also important life lessons and the power of a good mindset. I like teaching them self-motivation, dedication, teamwork, and leadership skills.”
Coach Brown is thrilled to have someone with Amanda’s experience as a part of his coaching staff. The fact that Amanda played for East Haven during Brown’s first two years as head coach makes it that much better for him.
“It’s tremendous. You hope for the best for your players, and Amanda was able to play Division I at Marist, so she played a lot of high-quality volleyball the last few years against some of the better players in the country. That experience and coming back gives these girls something to look forward to,” says Brown. “It’s good to see players enjoy their time at this program and willing to come back and help. She was an amazing talent as a player and is doing an incredible job helping the girls now.”
East Haven’s JV team is primarily made up of freshmen who had never played volleyball prior to this year. Amanda likes teaching her athletes about the sport, while motivating them to perform their best.
“The girls are continuously striving to better themselves and are visibly improving, which I am very proud of,” Amanda says. “I’m teaching these girls to emphasize teamwork and reliance on each other to get through those tough losses, rally around each other during exciting wins, and be passionate about the game of volleyball like I was. It’s awesome to show that drive can help them love the game and progress to higher levels.”
Amanda is a third-generation East Haven graduate. Her grandfather, Salvatore “Butch” Paolillo, won a state title as an All-State player for the basketball team before graduating in 1960. Amanda’s mother, Laurie Paolillo Bradley, graduated in 1983.
“When I walk into the gym, I get a rush of memories. Those memories come back, because it was a big part of my high school experience,” says Amanda. “It’s cool to be back there and see my name on the All-State banner, my grandpa’s plaque in the lobby, and his name on the All-State banner. It’s just a flood of emotions and memories that come back, and that is pretty cool.”
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