Best friends can often provide a strong influence, and that has been the case with Cornelia Connelly senior, Bryte Wood. Her best friend, former Connelly student and volleyball player, Sophia Albanese, is the one Wood admits got her interested in the sport.
After spending a few summers in volleyball camps during her middle school years, Wood brought her skills to Connelly. Playing opposite hitter for the Koalas, she enjoys the element of surprise that comes with the position.
“I really enjoy being an opposite hitter because whenever I get to hit the ball, the other team usually isn’t expecting it,” says Wood.
But at the heart of it, Wood’s love for volleyball can be found in the relationships she has built through the sport.
“The real reason I play is I really enjoy forming bonds with my teammates,” says the 17-year old, “and it’s just really a fun way to stay active.”
What Wood will miss the most about representing her school as a student athlete is the camaraderie and school spirit that is present on the Connelly campus. The support for her team’s efforts from fellow classmates, teachers and staff extends the sport beyond the court and makes competing more of a family experience for the players.
The volleyball journey for Wood hasn’t been without its challenges, as she admits the mental game is where most of her struggles lie.
“Even my coach would say a big problem that I have is with my own self confidence,” says Wood. “I really doubt myself a lot during games, and I get down on myself really easily. I’ve learned that by staying positive and being in the moment and enjoying the game, it’s easier for me to overcome that.”
Connelly head volleyball coach, Megan Marrujo, has seen a tremendous amount of growth in Wood over the three years she has coached her.
“I’ve had the amazing pleasure of watching Bryte grow into an outstanding leader, athlete and all around young woman,” says Marrujo. “Bryte is tremendous athlete who is easily coachable and always willing to learn. She has a great future ahead of her, and I can’t wait to see where life takes her.”
Outside of volleyball, Wood is heavily involved on her campus. She participates in choir, as well as National Honor Society, and she is captain of the school’s Mock Trial team, an activity that she enjoys so much, she hopes to study pre-law ahead of attending law school.
The La Mirada resident feels volleyball has taught her the meaning of “enjoying the moment,” and that sometimes it’s okay to be light-hearted about things. She remains grateful to Albanese for not only introducing her to the sport, but for providing steady motivation.
“She inspires me,” says Wood of Albanese, “to do the best in everything that I do.”