Perry Loves Forming Bonds with Her Squads –

By Jenn McCulloch/ • 06/17/2021 12:51 p.m. EST

Lilly Perry grew up doing gymnastics by training at Campbell’s in Clinton through 5th grade and then at TNT in Guilford until 8th grade. While she enjoyed gymnastics and perfecting the various stunts, Lilly found a love for other sports as she got older.

When she was in 5th grade, Lilly and one of her friends decided to give softball a try and joined a team in Madison Little League. Then as a freshman at Daniel Hand High School, Lilly signed up for the Tigers’ girls’ volleyball and softball squads.

“Softball seemed like a fun sport to try, and now it’s my favorite sport and I just love playing,” says Lilly. “My friends and I were looking for a sport to do and thought, ‘Why not try out for volleyball?’ and now I love the sport so much.”

Lilly recently completed her junior year at Hand, competing for both the volleyball and softball teams. Lilly enjoyed having the chance to play a full year of sports, especially since saw her sophomore softball season get canceled due to COVID-19.

During the 2020 fall season, the Tigers’ volleyball team started the year by practicing outside and was then cleared to play indoors for an abbreviated campaign. Lilly’s softball season was mostly normal with the exception of the fact that she wore a mask while competing, just like she had done on the volleyball court.

“Last year, I was really upset because we lost our softball season. So, this year, even with guidelines, it was amazing that it could even happen,” Lilly says. “For volleyball, playing in masks was really difficult, but I’d do anything to have the season go on. Just being able to play was a great opportunity.”

An outfielder, Lilly says that the highlight of her softball season came when Hand avenged an early loss to Branford by defeating the Hornets in the rematch. The Tigers lost a 12-10 decision against Branford in the first meeting, and Lilly was “really excited” to get the victory with an 8-4 home win the second time around.

While that win was a highlight for Lilly, her favorite thing about being part of the softball team is the bond that she shares with her teammates. Head Coach Caitlin Eichler has seen Lilly’s contributions to that bonding process firsthand.

“Lilly is the epitome of a team player. From the start to the end of every game, she cheered for her teammates and celebrated their successes,” says Eichler. “She covered a ton of ground in the outfield, no matter which of the three positions she played. Lilly has a strong arm and can effortlessly throw the ball from the outfield to home plate in the air. Lilly always did what was in the team’s best interest.”

Lilly is currently awaiting the announcement of the senior captains for her final season with the softball team and has a goal of being named a captain in both of her sports. Lilly has high hopes for the volleyball and softball teams next year and wants each of them to post strong records and then make a run in the SCC and State tournaments.

“I really hope to get captain of both. I’ve always been a natural leader and have experience helping my teammates and my younger sisters, Mavis and Cecelia,” Lilly says. “I’m always trying to help people improve and looking out for everyone else.”

Team bonding is also Lilly’s favorite aspect of playing volleyball for the Tigers. A major highlight of Lilly’s volleyball career came when Hand topped Guilford in a JV match in her sophomore season—a victory that Lilly says was, “a really big deal, because they’re a great program.”

Lilly was promoted to the varsity squad as a junior and started at the setter position. One contributing factor to Lilly’s success on the volleyball court is her offseason work with the Huskies out of Windsor, where Lilly competes alongside some of her Tigers’ teammates.

Lilly has also been a member of several offseason travel softball teams, including a year playing with the Sting and two years with the Tides, after which she joined the Hornets, for whom she stills plays. Lilly will practice two days a week and compete in tournaments on weekends with the Hornets throughout the summer.

“It gives me a constant chance to improve,” says Lilly. “I don’t have to get back into the swing of things and come out of having an entire summer off. Just being able to play is also really good, too.”

Lilly feels thankful for all of her coaches and teammates in her sports. Lilly credits her parents, Anna and Mike, for being a “big support who have helped me through all of my games,” along with her friends and teammates, who are “all there for me if I’m having a bad day.”

Lilly also excels in the classroom and was recently inducted into the National Honor Society at Hand. She participates in several clubs at the school, including Caring for Connecticut, which facilitates involvement in volunteer opportunities, and Habitat for Humanity. Lilly participated in a build this past February and says that it was a “really fun and a great experience.”

As she heads into her senior year, Lilly has Boston University at the top of the list for her college choices, but she is still exploring her options. Lilly is interested in psychology and criminal justice and is considering both of those subjects for a major.

For now, Lilly plans to enjoy her summer by spending time with her friends and also on the softball field with the Hornets. Lilly is looking forward to her senior year playing for her tight-knit volleyball and softball teams at Hand.

“My favorite thing about sports is that all of the teams I’ve ever been on are so well-connected and we all have such a bond,” says Lilly. “I also love the excitement of sports in general, and you never know what’s going to happen.”