New Volleyball Team is Getting The Jump on Competitors

Volleyball's match against The Academy at Penguin Hall last week was a great moment for the team, and not just because they won. The October 24 face-off marked the first home game for the team, playing in their first-ever season at Brooks School!

The sport was introduced this fall as an option for female athletes, and the team of 21 — captained by Taylor Berberian '19, Elizabeth Desimone '20, Caitlin Pierce '19 and Sydney Robinson '20 — came together quickly for their first match, on September 26, versus Phillips Exeter Academy. (That game was a loss but lessons were clearly learned: The team clinched victories in four consecutive games following that day).

Spanish teacher Chelsea Clater coaches the team, and has definite goals for their inaugural season. "I want to build a team culture and a foundation of skills, get operating on the same systems, and measure and recognize improvement for all the team members," she said. And how's it going? So far, so good!

"We have played very competitively against some strong, established 2nd and 3rd level programs like St. Paul's School and Phillips Exeter Academy, and even played well against Groton's 1st team," she explained. "Our newest athletes to volleyball are now mostly able to get three hits each time and are doing a great job covering the court and helping set each other up."

In her own words, Clater shares more about what it has been like to kick off a brand new program on campus and watch her players improve their skills every time they step foot out on the court ...

How would you describe this team — athletes who formerly participated other fall sports, volleyball athletes, or a mix of the two?

"This team has everyone: Girls who thought it sounded fun, others who played in middle school or at summer camps but haven't had the opportunity since being at Brooks, players who wanted to be part of the first team, and some true volleyball enthusiasts! I would say at this point, everyone is an enthusiast."

Starting a team from scratch must be exciting but also challenging. In what ways has that been true for Brooks volleyball?

"It has been a huge learning curve and a massive team effort from Director of Athletics Roberta Crump-Burbank P'11 and Assistant Director of Athletics James Kelley, who really made it all happen. On my end, it has been a challenge — to have so many skill levels on one single team and still make practice count for everyone, knowing there will be both a 2nd and a 1st team next year — but the excitement has been constant. Every game is a completely new experience for us, after all."

How have you seen the players come together as a team as the season goes on?

"Everyone helps each other because there is a sense that we are all in this together and a rising tide raises all ships. The better we all are, the more we can push each other in practice. There is a desire for everyone to learn and do well and the team has become really close over the season because of that. Also, just sharing the experience of being the first-ever Brooks volleyball team feels special and the girls recognize that."

What's been the highlight of your schedule so far, and what are you most looking forward to?

"I have two highlights. The first was the very first match we ever played, in which our top girls took on Exeter and were competitive with them, taking them into a fourth set. Everyone played their heart out and it was an amazing way to kick off the season with confidence!

The second highlight for me was the game against Penguin Hall, when our second- and third-level teams went in and played beautifully together. Girls who hadn't seen a lot of playing time were winning points on blocks and kills and making great saves! The noise level in the gym went up and up as everyone cheered them on, recognizing what was happening and how big this was for these teams. Their faces were just beaming! As a coach, it was amazing to see them play at this level and see the drastic improvement in their skills, as well as their confidence."

Visit the Volleyball team's page on to learn more about the squad's goals and see the full season's schedule and scores.

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