One of this weekâ€™s â€śAthlete of the Weekâ€ť picks is a first-timer for the honor, while the other is a veteran. Respectively, they are Bristol Eastern volleyball player Ryley Plourde, a junior middle blocker/hitter for coach Stefanie Reay; and Chris Deforest, a senior cross country captain for Terryville coaches Stephanie Fuller and Dean Martin.
The choice of Plourde comes on the heels of the Lancersâ€™ huge 3-2 (25-18, 20-25, 25-17, 17-25, 15-10) win over previously-unbeaten RHAM on Tuesday.
â€śRyley is one of our returning varsity starters this year and she has contributed 82 kills, 22 blocks and 13 aces to date this season,â€ť Reay said. â€śIn our RHAM game this week, Ryley had eight kills and six blocks, with two kills and two blocks in the fifth set alone. Ryley was a huge contributor to our win in the fifth set versus RHAM.
â€śOverall this (last) week, Ryley contributed 19 kills, seven blocks and four aces. The most important thing Ryley brings to our team at this point, though, is her energy, her positive attitude, her desire to constantly improve herself and her level of play, as well as her ability to push and improve her teammates.â€ť
Plourde shared her thoughts about her job on the court.
â€śMy responsibility is to get a lot of touches on the ball, get my teammates excited, bring a positive energy to the court at all times, and to put down a lot of kills,â€ť Plourde said. â€śI think it was a lot of responsibility against RHAM to get a lot of touches on the ball, because it helped my defense if I slowed the ball down.â€ť
Plourde, who started playing volleyball at Northeast Middle School as a seventh-grader, has come a long way. Sheâ€™s had Stacy Rivoira for a high school coach and now Reay, who has had her share of years on the coaching sidelines.Â
â€śI think coach Reay is a different type of coach, one weâ€™ve never seen before, but it works right for our team,â€ť Plourde said. â€śSheâ€™s prepared us well for the season, and for the games we have ahead.â€ť
In addition to volleyball, Plourde also competes in outdoor track, concentrating in the three jumps: high, long and triple. But itâ€™s volleyball she enjoys the most.
â€śI love how Iâ€™m constantly moving and I love the excitement it brings,â€ť Plourde said. â€śItâ€™s a fun sport all around.â€ť
Deforest gets his AOW nod after taking first place at the Class S state meet, running the Wickham Park cross country course in 16:43, a time which was 35 seconds faster than runner-up Lucas Corini from Bolton. He finished 2018â€™s race in second place.
â€śChris Deforest is one of the hardest working athletes that either of us have ever coached,â€ť Fuller said. â€śHe is never satisfied and always strived for improvement. He has lofty goals and will let nothing get in the way of achieving them. On top of his dedication and work ethic, he is humble and unpretentious.
â€śWhen asked about his accomplishments, he often shrugs them off as if he hasnâ€™t done anything special at all. We are so excited to see not only what Chris will accomplish during the rest of this postseason, but where his future will take him as a collegiate athlete.â€ť
Deforest talked about the Class S race.
â€śI expected to win, I was seeded number one,â€ť Deforest said. â€śI didnâ€™t expect to win by as much as I did. I was supposed to pace, not to go fast so I could save my energy for the (upcoming State) Open meet.â€ť
And when he gets to the State Open, to be held this Friday at Wickham Park in Manchester, he aims to better his 2018 result.
â€śI definitely want to grab a New England (championship) spot,â€ť Deforest said. â€śI know if I do well at the State Open you can get that. Thatâ€™s the top 25. Last year I finished 41st, I had a bad race.â€ť
Between cross country and both indoor and outdoor track, Deforest has been recognized as All-State, all-conference and All-Press. He said that cross country is his favorite.
â€śI enjoy cross country more because itâ€™s the only race you have to worry about,â€ť Deforest said.
Deforest has a scholarship to run at Siena College next year for cross country and both indoor and outdoor track. As far as studies go, he will be majoring in finance.