Q&A With Athlete of the Week: Eli Braginsky

Photo courtesy of Eli Braginsky

By Cameron Dubin
Managing Editor of Sports

When he arrived at Newton South as a freshman, senior Eli Braginsky was unsure of what to do with his athletic ability. However, after being recruited by Coach Todd Elwell, Braginsky decided to go with volleyball; a good decision as he was a large part of South’s recent success including DCL championships, sectional finalist, and state championships.

This past year, Braginsky decided to run indoor track for the first time. He became one of the four members on the 4 by 200 meter relay team that traveled to New Balance Nationals in New York.

Denebola had the chance to sit down with Braginsky before he graduates to talk about his athletic success.

When and why did you start playing volleyball?

“I started playing freshmen year. I remember in freshmen wellness we were playing volleyball, doing the volleyball unit with Mr. Elwell. And he was saying that I was doing well in wellness and he thought that I’d be good on the team. He also told me that I would be able to dunk by the end of the season if I played. That was part of my motivation because I could jump high, but not as high as I wanted. And he said that just a season of playing volleyball would make my vertical go up like four or five inches, so that was hard to turn down. I was actually deciding between volleyball and [outdoor] track and I decided to go with volleyball basically just because of Coach Elwell’s recruiting and I’m glad I did, even though I did run indoor track this year.”

How do you feel like this past season went?

“I think it went well. It was somewhat of a rebuilding year because we graduated ten seniors. We still finished I think 12-5. I remember it was actually weird, I was talking to a lot of people during the season and whenever I would say the record like “Oh we’re 10-4” or something like that, they’d be like “Oh that sucks” because they’re used to hearing the volleyball team go like 25-0, 20-0 or whatever. But then this year when I’d say that we were 10-5 or something like that, which is still a great record for a South team, better than most teams, they [other students] would be disappointed. So I think just because the expectations were so high, a lot of people thought that we had a disappointing year, but I think we played well. We had some good battles, won some good games, and we did alright in the playoffs.”

You were part of a state championship here at South as a sophomore, what does that mean to you?

“It means a lot. It was a really great experience. I mean, you really don’t have a perfect season often, but we did go 25-0, won a state championship. It was just a great group of people, close, tight knit, we had a lot of fun on the bench and on the court when I did get playing time. I didn’t get that much playing time, so that wasn’t ideal, but just being part of that good of a team was an amazing experience. Something I’ll never forget.”

Do you have any pregame superstitions or routines?

“I always listen to music [before games]. I have a playlist I like to listen to just to get me in the zone. A lot of people will be talking before games, but I’ll usually be really focused, and kinda like in my own head. I also always chew gum. It’s always the same. I always chew spearmint gum by Extra. And that’s while I play too. And then I have some clothes I like to wear. I usually wear the same socks, same spandex like that kind of thing. And also just kinda like an in game superstition and in practice. I’ll always try and use the same ball. Like if we just won a point, I’ll make sure to get that same ball back and then use it again just because I’m superstitious about using the same one.”

You ran track for Newton South at New Balance Indoor Nationals this past winter. What was that like?

“That was an incredible experience because it was my first time doing track. I did cross country a couple of times, but I really should be a sprinter so it was kinda pointless to do distance for cross country. It was a great experience because I improved as the season went on, I got closer with my teammates. I really didn’t expect to go nearly as far as I did. And then we kinda just kept doing better and better, the relay just kept going farther and eventually ran at Nationals. It’s definitely something I’ll never forget. It was an amazing experience with a great group of people.”

Any volleyball plans in the future?

“I’ll probably play club or at least intramural at Umass. They don’t have a men’s [varsity] team, but I could definitely see myself playing club. I know a bunch of guys who have played at South like Zach Halpern and few other guys have played club there. I’m not sure if I want to keep playing just because I want new experiences in college, but I’m good at it so I might stick with it.”