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Broadwater makes hard work pay off

November 13, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

WILLIAMSPORT - Great athletes always stand out, no matter the playing field they compete on.

Those who have watched Williamsport senior Cayla Broadwater compete - whether on the volleyball court or as a state champion in track and field - know without a doubt she's a great athlete.

That is why the University of Connecticut is giving Broadwater the chance to continue her volleyball career at the NCAA Division I level.

Broadwater signed her letter of intent on Wednesday to play for Connecticut on a full scholarship beginning next fall.

"I am definitely excited," Broadwater said. "I've had a hard time struggling to find where I fit in, and I know UConn is the place I'm supposed to be. Signing on the dotted line confirms it. I'm thrilled."

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Broadwater averaged 4.20 kills and 1.53 blocks per game this year for the Wildcats, who won a share of the MVAL Antietam title. She won Maryland Class 1A outdoor track and field state titles in the long jump, triple jump and high jump as a junior last spring.

"(Volleyball) is my first love," Broadwater said. "I will definitely miss track, and I don't know if I can do that up there, but I will definitely focus on volleyball."

Broadwater will be one of three middle hitters on UConn's roster next fall, and has an opportunity to start right away if she impresses.

"(Coach Holly Strauss-O'Brien) has told me already if there's a spot open, I can get it," Broadwater said. "I just have to work hard for it and I'm willing to do it."

"She's already got her goals set that she's going to be a starter," Williamsport coach Emily Crabtree said. "She's determined. She wants to be successful, have a good experience and step right in and play, and I don't see why she can't. She'll work hard to get here."

Broadwater, an All-County First Team performer as a junior, took on a leadership role this season as several Wildcats starters graduated after last season. She more than met that challenge.

"I've learned about being a leader, making sure my team was up and ready to face whoever we were facing," Broadwater said. "Being able to help out my teammates helped me become a better player."

"She's definitely improved each year. Her progress has been unbelievable and she has confidence in the ability she has," Crabtree said. "She's very humble. She's very coachable. She's just a lot of fun to have on the team. She's a leader and she helped us get as far as we did this year. She's really excited to get to play at Connecticut. She's the first Division I player I've coached."

Broadwater said she would not have been able to sign on the dotted line Wednesday were it not for Crabtree.

"I have a lot to owe to Coach," Broadwater said. "When I was younger, she got me into volleyball in middle school. She's always been there the whole way through, she turned me into a better player and she gets the most out of me."

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