WESTPORT — Staples head girls’ volleyball coach Jon Shepro thinks Amelia Brackett should be a high jumper. Brackett laughs at the idea.
“I tried it and didn’t like it,” she said with a smile.
Instead she stuck with volleyball, the only sport she’s ever known. And that’s turned out to be a pretty good thing for Shepro and the Staples volleyball program.
The 5-foot-11 Brackett, who just recently committed to Cornell, has helped lead the Wreckers to an 11-1 start and one of the top teams in the FCIAC and state.
“I’ve never seen a girl jump as high as she jumps,” Shepro said. “And for such a small girl to hit the ball as hard as she hits it, it defies logic.”
Brackett, who said she didn’t start playing competitively until her freshman season, has emerged as one of the top hitters in the state. Before entering high school she explained she participated in clinics and camps and knew she liked the sport, so she kept going with it. Her first year at Staples she played on the freshman squad. It wasn’t until her sophomore season when the growth started to happen. Brackett made the varsity team and continued to play into the winter and spring. She plays for TCA Club (based in Trumbull). She credits year-round work to honing her skills and improving in her all-around game – hitting, serving and passing.
“You don’t really notice the improvement till you do high school and go away and do your own training and come back. And then you notice how much you’ve improved,” Brackett said.
Shepro said he saw the difference in her play from her sophomore to junior year right away.
“She could always jump and she was a decent hitter as a sophomore,” he said. “We really saw this huge jump and I don’t know much better she could have gotten in a year. That big jump was really her coming out party.”
Last season Staples finished with a 15-6 record and advanced to the Class LL quarterfinals before falling to Cheshire in four games.
This season Staples’ only loss has been to Greenwich, as of Monday. The Wreckers sit in second place in the FCIAC West Division.
Brackett who plays outside hitter for Staples has been a huge asset. Against Darien (11-2) last Friday, she accounted for 24 kills, three blocks, 11 digs and two aces as the Wreckers won in five games.
“This year she’s been unbelievable,” Shepro said. “Don’t get me wrong, she’s still improving. I just remember how shocked I was and saw her as a junior and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this girl has got it.’”
But it’s not just her play. Brackett, who is also a captain, has improved her leadership skills and taken it upon herself to help the team in any way possible. Brackett explained though it’s been a team effort assembling the season they’ve had. Players like Lauren Mushro, Arianna Sherman, Knox Schieffelin and many more have helped the Wreckers put together an impressive record they hope to continue.
“The reason why I like volleyball is it’s such a team sport and you have to rely on every single person on the court, and just the friendship and chemistry you build,” Brackett said.
Added Shepro: “Obviously Amelia is a great player and we’re having a great season, but it’s nice to know she’s not the only player we have. You never win volleyball games with just one player; it takes all six, seven, eight girls.It’s also nice to know when you need a big kill, you need a big point, you know that Amelia is more than up to the challenge and will probably get you that big point.”