Perry volleyball’s Woodworth dominating on courts, in classroom
Dec 20, 2022, 5:15 AM
(Photo courtesy Braelyn Woodworth)
Three years ago, the girl’s volleyball team at Perry High School had never appeared in a state championship game since the school’s inception. In 2022, as strong favorites to make it to a third straight title game appearance, the Pumas were eliminated in the semifinals.
Braelyn Woodworth has been a key member of the team for the past two years as it entered the championship conversation under head coach Fred Mann and his staff.
“It’s a lot of pressure and I felt a ton of burden because it was my senior year,” Woodworth said. “I have all these expectations and I don’t wanna let Coach Mann down because he’s such a great coach. … Throughout the season, you realize there’s way more to it than just winning, and I think Coach Mann does a great job of setting that example and understanding what it takes to get there.”
Woodworth understood the difficulties of getting to her position as the team’s libero. She had her fair share of injuries, including a concussion early on in her time at Perry when she was the team captain for the JV squad. Taking time off the court was first seen as a setback but eventually served as a meaningful experience.
“It’s hard to sit back on the sidelines, try to be a leader and embrace your role,” Woodworth said. “But I think through having to sit those games, I learned just how important your role is on the court and off the court. It’s not just all about performance, it’s about giving good words to your teammates and supporting everyone and just being the loudest cheer.”
Woodworth’s leadership goes beyond the court. The Arizona Republic recognized her as an Academic All-Star Athlete for her performance in the classroom as well. Currently, she holds a 4.41 weighted grade point average.
But just like volleyball, success in academics came with setbacks.
“I specifically remember going into freshman year and I came out of junior high thinking I’m super smart and this is going to be easy. And unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for me,” Woodworth said. “I was struggling in my geometry class and I realized there’s a lot more that I’m going to have to do if I want the grade I want in this class. I did tutoring every day after school, I asked questions and did a lot of studying. At the end of the year, I got an A in the class and I was super proud of myself. That really just taught me that really nothing is going to come easy in life.”
After her freshman year, Woodworth began to blossom in the classroom, finding a passion for science as well as becoming involved with the Spanish Honors Society. Through the group, she had a chance to contribute to multiple service projects.
“I got to go to an event called Chandler Contigo while they were celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and saw their traditional dances, heard from some speakers and experienced the honoring ceremonies,” Woodworth said. “It was so interesting and I think it just helps you so much with connecting with all sorts of people, which is such an important thing to be able to do.”
Woodworth looks ahead to college this summer. She plans to play volleyball at Colorado State-Pueblo while pursuing a career in plastic surgery.
“There’s so much good that you can do with plastic surgery, whether it’s helping burn victims or correcting cleft palates, or even helping people breathe normally,” Woodworth said. “I think it’s so nice that plastic surgery allows you to enhance someone’s confidence just by simply doing a procedure for people like, for example, a woman who had breast cancer and you finally can make her feel truly beautiful on the outside, even though she’s already beautiful on the inside.”
Woodworth’s excellence in the classroom and leadership in volleyball is just a reflection of the mentality she has held throughout her time in high school.
“(I’ve learned) nothing in life comes easy and that you have to work for everything because the world’s not going to give you anything. Everything has to be deserved and worked for,” Woodworth said. “If you put your mind to something, you might not necessarily get the outcome that you want, but you will definitely gain an intellectual experience that will just help you grow as a person.”