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Sports Person of the Week
Braren Helps the Cougars Make History
Senior captain midfielder Cal Braren helped the H-K boys’ lacrosse team have a historic season that saw the Cougars claim their first Shoreline Conference championship. (Photo courtesy of Cal Braren)
Cal Braren wasn’t sure what to expect when his mother Lauren took over as head coach of the Haddam-Killingworth High School boys’ lacrosse team. Cal knew that the Cougars had a ton of talent, but he wanted to ensure that they put their skills to good use during the 2021 season.
H-K ultimately claimed its first Shoreline Conference title in program history on its way to finishing with an overall record of 14-6 on the year. A senior captain midfielder, Cal felt proud about what his club accomplished this spring.
“I think this season went as well as it possibly could have. It came to an end in states against a team [St. Joseph] that’s dominated Class S for the past decade. So, the boys definitely gave the season everything they had and performed as a result,” says Cal. “Next year, I’m hoping my brother [Nolan] and the rest of the upperclassmen will be able to repeat as conference champions and strengthen the team’s legacy in school history.”
Cal proved one of the Cougars’ top performers by scoring 34 goals, handing out 47 assists, and scooping up 45 ground balls this season. Cal also won 80 percent of his face-off draws while leading an H-K team that was bolstered by some excellent chemistry.
“I love the opportunity lacrosse gives to establish connections with people you usually wouldn’t meet,” Cal says. “Whether it be teammates, coaches, or even opposing players, you can make some really great friends that will stay with you throughout your life.”
Cal’s favorite moment from the season came when H-K won the Shoreline Conference title by claiming an 11-9 victory versus Valley Regional in the tournament final. Cal and his teammates had put in a lot of work to improve their games throughout the offseason, and he was pleased to see all of that effort pay off with a championship.
“My favorite moment was winning our school’s first conference championship this year,” says Cal. “I practice at home, put in time at the gym and, most importantly, watch players and games at the highest level to improve my knowledge of the sport.”
Cal’s coach and mother Lauren felt grateful for the opportunity to coach her son on the lacrosse field. Lauren Braren says that Cal put together a stellar campaign to help the Cougars make history.
“Cal was an all-around leader and asset in all aspects of the game this year. He had as many assists as goals and created a ton of offense,” says Braren. “He also stepped in to take face-offs at pivotal times in many games and won 80 percent of them, which helped us stay in a lot of important games.”
Cal didn’t expect his mother to take over as the head coach of his high school team. However, Cal feels that he grew closer to her once she stepped into that role.
“It’s an interesting relationship to say the least,” Cal says. “Seeing as the head coach is my mom, I couldn’t have asked for a more accommodating and understanding head coach.”
In addition to playing lacrosse, Cal is also a member of H-K’s boys’ soccer and indoor track teams. Last fall, Cal was the starting goalkeeper for the boys’ soccer squad and helped the Cougars take the Shoreline Conference title with a 1-0 win versus Old Lyme in the final of the tournament.
“I absolutely loved playing in goal this year. I had such a great defense led by Alex Blair, which minimized shots on goal. The boys were always super supportive no matter what, and I appreciated it a lot,” Cal says. “I think the season went as perfectly as it could have. The CIAC wasn’t allowing any State Tournament games, and we ended up winning our conference championship, so it was a great note to start the school year on.”
Cal was member of the National Honor Society at H-K in his senior year. He also enjoys playing music in his spare time.
“If no one is around, I like to play trumpet and especially piano,” says Cal. “I had the opportunity to be a member of the National Honor Society and was a captain of this year’s high school lacrosse team. I also enjoy wakeboarding and wake-surfing during summer break.”
In the end, Cal was happy to play a full season of lacrosse without it being interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cal feels fortunate that he was able to receive his vaccination early.
“I was worried, but not for myself in particular,” Cal says. “I got vaccinated as soon as possible, but still had to try and keep our team as safe as possible as to not get quarantined and miss a sizable chunk of the season.”