By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Tara Deaton’s journey to playing volleyball at the University of the Cumberlands started when she was in fifth grade.
Her family had just moved to Ocala, Florida, and Deaton had never played volleyball in her life. But she made friends with some other girls at her church who did play, and they asked her to tryout. “Because of those friends I decided to play,” Deaton said. “And from that moment on, my dream was to play in college someday.”
That dream came true last Friday, when she inked to play junior varsity volleyball with the Lady Patriots. Cumberlands head coach Kara Clemenz was thrilled to get a player the caliber of Deaton on her squad.
“She has good court sense, knows the game and is very well rounded,” Clemenz said. “Based on her tryout, I believe she will be one of our stronger junior varsity players. She will definitely contribute to the junior varsity.”
The dream was almost derailed when, in 2007, she found out that she had Brugada Syndrome, a genetic heart disease with no cure that claimed of the life of her uncle, Anthony Deaton, who died at 23 in his sleep. Her father, Chris Deaton, had a near-death cardiac experience in 1998 when he slipped in and out of consciousness while on a flight.
Four out of the five Deaton children, all girls, were tested and found out they carried the mutation for Brugada Syndrome. Deaton was the first of her siblings to receive a defibrillator, and she soon returned to the volleyball court, determined not to let this stop her from playing the sport she loves.
“When I first found out I had (Brugada Syndrome) there really wasn’t a lot of information on it, so I didn’t know if I would be able to play or not,” Deaton said. “Once the doctors told me I would be able to play I decided I wouldn’t let it stop me.”
Deaton said she knows she will have to work on her overall game to be able to compete at the collegiate level, but feels she does have one strength that will help her succeed.
“I tend to do well under pressure,” Deaton said. “That helps a lot and I feel that is one of my strengths. Going from high school to college volleyball is totally different.”
Deaton said she decided on the Williamsburg university for a variety of different reasons.
“A lot of my friends are going there,” Deaton said. “When I went down to practice I loved the people and I knew I would fit in well there.”