Sports Person of the Week
Brouder’s Grateful to Be Back on the Court
Senior Emily Brouder is looking forward to competing with her teammates on the Guilford girls’ volleyball team after sitting out the last few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Emily Brouder )
Emily Brouder would love nothing more than to hit the court and compete for the Guilford girls’ volleyball team this fall. And she just might get that chance, after all.
Last year, Emily helped Guilford go 23-4, win its first SCC title since 1994, and then advance all the way to the Class L state final. Emily was looking forward to her senior season, as well as her offseason work with the Husky Volleyball Club, but the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her regular routine.
However, despite missing out on the spring season with the Huskies and her summer conditioning with Guilford, Emily’s outlook remains positive. Emily returned to the floor with her club team in July and is hoping that the high school season starts as planned on Thursday, Oct. 1.
“Over the quarantine is the longest I’ve gone without playing since I started playing volleyball in 7th grade,” says Emily. “It was tough being out of that routine and missing my teammates, but once we got back in gym, it was like riding a bike.”
Emily has been solely focused on volleyball since her freshman year of high school. Emily also played other sports while growing up, but enjoyed volleyball so much that she decided to concentrate on that sport at Guilford, in addition to joining the Husky team in Windsor as a freshman.
As much as she loves volleyball, Emily admits that there were points where she felt like she needed a break from the sport after playing year-round. The events of the past six months have provided Emily with that break, and she’s learned a valuable lesson as a result.
“Whether or not you play club, this has been a really interesting reset period mentally. It has shown us how much we miss volleyball when you don’t have it,” Emily says. “This break has set into motion a new mindset that will carry over onto the court—how much we want to be with each other and play.”
Head Coach Laura Anastasio is also eager to see what the season brings with Emily back in the varsity lineup—a spot that she’s held since her sophomore year. Anastasio says that Emily “played a huge role in our SCC championship” last fall and has the stats to back it up. A middle hitter, Emily led Guilford with 51 blocks and was second on the squad with 206 kills on her way to garnering All-SCC Second Team honors.
“Emily is a really positive teammate and a very hard worker,” says Anastasio. “Emily is the type of person who will get more excited for her teammates’ big plays than they do. She tries to keep everyone positive on the court and brings great energy to every play. She will play a big role on our team this year, whatever our season looks like.”
Emily and her teammates began their training for the season last week, although that wasn’t the first time they saw each other this summer. In August, the Guilford volleyball team held a carwash fundraiser.
“I got to meet some of the girls for the first time, and they’re a really good group of girls,” Emily says. “Even though I’m not a captain, I want to be someone they can look up to and feel comfortable talking to. The circumstances have made small things like the carwash even more impactful, bringing us closer together, which will hopefully show on the court.”
Emily is not only looking forward to her high school season; she also hopes to play volleyball at the next level. During the past year, Emily has been in contact with coaches from various colleges.
“I’m an only child and really close to my parents, so I’m a little wary about college. But throughout my life, volleyball has helped me meet a lot of people,” says Emily, who would like to be a screenwriter or producer. “That family aspect will be really beneficial to have in college, and it will be really fun to be a part of something bigger and represent your school.”
While she’s seen plenty of success on the court, the relationships that Emily has formed with her teammates and coaches are the brightest highlights of her career. Emily has met athletes from around Connecticut and other states through the Husky Volleyball Club. With the high school squad, she’s been playing alongside many of the same teammates for several years. Emily’s first experience in competitive volleyball came in 7th grade, but she did clinics through Yale and Guilford Parks and Rec prior to that.
“Everyone on my team has been really supportive,” Emily says. “We have a really great group of girls who have exponentially improved the whole program in Guilford, and I want to thank all of them for making me want to get better every day. The friendship and the community has been impactful on and off the court.”
Emily was introduced to volleyball by her mother Mary, who played the sport in high school. Emily’s father Larry has also been actively involved in her athletic career by coaching her soccer, basketball, and softball teams when she was younger. During the early portion of the pandemic, Emily and her mom were cleaning the garage and found some articles about Mary’s playing days.
“It was neat to see how we’re leading a similar career and have so many similarities when it comes to volleyball,” says Emily. “She’s been really awesome with wanting me to pursue volleyball, but not pressuring me. And now that I’m wanting to pursue it in college—something that she didn’t do—she’s even more excited.”
The COVID-19 pandemic not only affected Emily’s life by taking volleyball out of the equation for a while, but she also missed out on milestone events like prom. However, the cancellation that hit Emily the hardest was the state’s Special Olympics Summer Games. Emily is involved with the Unified Sports program at the high school and had volunteered at the games for the past five years.
“That was definitely one of the harder things that I missed. Not being able to see the athletes was so hard,” Emily says. “The whole community with Special Olympics and Unified Sports is so tight-knit, so everyone will be happy to get back to it.”
Emily is keeping her fingers crossed that her senior volleyball season will be played as planned. Although this isn’t the way she expected her senior year to start, Emily knows that she is going to enjoy every moment that she gets to play volleyball.
“After being away for so long, we’re never going to take being on the court for granted ever again,” says Emily. “We will be so happy to be back that it will show in our energy and spirit on the court.”
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .