Confidence is a funny thing. You can’t really pinpoint when you find it. It doesn’t suddenly appear at a certain age or because of any achievement. Confidence tends to come on gradually and you never really realize when you have it.
Capuchino’s Taylor Brazil apparently found her confidence this year. Not that it was lacking, but a boost of confidence helped Brazil to achieve the San Mateo Daily Journal’s Girls’ Athlete of the Year.
Brazil, a senior, wrapped up one of the most prolific careers for Capuchino. She was a four-year varsity volleyball player, four-year varsity basketball player and played three years of varsity softball.
“[Brazil] is a really good athlete. This year, I think she had a breakout year,” said Capuchino softball coach Todd Grammatico. “She was a little more confident in her ability this year. We always knew she had the potential.”
Brazil credits some of that to her position with the leadership class at Capuchino, helping plan school and community events.
“It got me out of my comfort zone,” Brazil said.
Success, as usual, is a big factor in gaining confidence. It started on the volleyball court. While the Mustangs did not experience a lot of team success, Brazil was one of those players coach Lynn Niemira could not do without.
“I couldn’t take her off the court,” Niemira said. “She was probably our best all-around player.”
Playing predominantly as an outside hitter, Brazil never balked at moving to other spots, doing whatever was best for the team which, as a senior, was one of her calling cards.
“I would say she was more confident, a better leader,” Niemira said. “She kind of took on the role of senior leader. She was just consistent. She was solid.”
Following a volleyball season in which Brazil was named to the second-team All-League Ocean team, Brazil stayed in the gym and swapped volleyball for a basketball. Again, she proved to be a leader on the team, being named a team captain and scoring 12.4 points per game and grabbing just under six rebounds per contest. Both numbers were second-best for the Mustangs.
Mike Dozier took over the basketball coaching reins for the Mustangs this season and didn’t know exactly what he had talent wise. Brazil opened his eyes quickly, however.
“We started to have open gym weeks before the season started and she came in,” Dozier said. “I was working out with her, and at one point she hit, like, 14 jumpers in row. I thought, ‘We got something here.’”
Brazil took her burgeoning confidence into the season and helped lead the Mustangs to one of their best seasons in recent memory. Capuchino was in the running for the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division championship for the first half of the season, before stumbling down the stretch and settling for a 6-6 league mark — still one of the best PAL seasons in years for the Mustangs.
That was still good enough to qualify Capuchino for the Central Coast Section playoffs, where the Mustangs garnered the No. 11 seed in the Division III brackets and a first-round win over Live Oak.
“We got a new coach and a few new players. It gave me a sense of change,” Brazil said. “We got to CCS. It was so much fun.”
Along the way, Brazil set a single-game scoring record when she dropped 36 points in a 95-18 win over San Lorenzo Valley-Scotts Valley on Dec. 26. Brazil said she doesn’t remember a lot about that game, other than the fact Dozier kept her in despite having the game well in hand.
“[Dozier] said just to stay in and just keep scoring,” Brazil said.
Making the achievement even greater was how she accumulated all those points. Brazil sees herself as a 3-point shooter, but against San Lorenzo Valley, she went 0 for 3 from beyond the arc.
“I think it was all on drives (to the basket),” Brazil said. “I had a lot of confidence that game.”
After earning second-team All-League PAL South honors in basketball, Brazil finally got out of the gym and hit the softball field, but wasn’t always a foregone conclusion she would. Brazil said, having played softball since she was 9 years old, had thought about quitting the sport when she was in high school.
“I wanted to quit softball for a really long time, but my parents made me do it,” Brazil said. She said she first thought about giving up the sport before her sophomore year, but never seriously considered it.
“I think I secretly still liked it,” Brazil said.
Grammatico was certainly happy to see Brazil show up for softball.
“There was a rumor she wasn’t going to play,” Grammatico said. When she did finally come out, “She hit much better than in the past. She hit for more power. She added a lot to the team.”
Brazil went on to hit .262 and tied for third on the team with 11 RBIs, earning Honorable Mention honors for the All-PAL Bay Division squad.
Grammatico credits some of Brazil’s confidence this season to the fact he made her a team captain.
“I think Taylor was surprised she was a captain. I wanted that for Taylor. I thought that might bring her out of her shell a little bit,” Grammatico said. “She was just different this year.”
In this day and age of high school athletes moving toward specialization, Brazil is a bit of a throwback when it comes to playing three sports. Basketball and softball were her loves growing up and she added volleyball when she decided she wanted to try for her school’s sports blanket — an award given to those athletes who play three different sports for all four years of high school.
“For a while, I was going to concentrate just on basketball, but I really wanted to get my high school blanket,” Brazil said. “I don’t like just sitting around. I’ve always played basketball and softball since third grade. I figured I should play volleyball. Sports always kept me well-rounded and gave me something to do.”
Not that sports defines Brazil. She said she is still mulling over whether to play basketball at Skyline College next year. Besides, she knows her time as high-level athlete is probably coming to a close.
“You can’t play sports forever,” Brazil said.
But when she did, there were few who did it as well and as long as Brazil.