Student Athlete Spotlight: Sam Poryanda

Get to know Sam Poryanda, a basketball standout and organizer of a basketball clinic to benefit SARAH.

Sport: Basketball
Nominated by: His coaches
Reason for nomination: In addition to anchoring this year's successful boys' basketball team, Sam has also organized a benefit to raise money for SARAH Tuxis. He organized the "Shoot for SARAH Tuxis," a clinic that helped teach SARAH clients the fundamentals of basketball. Clients raised money by getting people to pledge for each foul shot made during the clinic. All of the proceeds benefited the Residents Travel Club, a group within SARAH, which allows the clients to fulfill their dreams of traveling to various destinations. It was held Dec. 17.

Want to nominate someone to be featured? E-mail the above information to Bing Miller at millerbhs@gmail.com.

senior Sam Poryanda is a tri-captain of the basketball team which currently has a 6-2 record. Their next game is Friday at North Haven. He is also a Captain on the Varsity Track team. He is a state finalist for the Wendy's High School Heisman Award. In addition to athletics, he is co-president of the Italian Club, a member of the National Honor Society, World Language National Honor Society and the Science National Honor Society.

Branford Patch: What have you taken away from your experience playing basketball at Branford High school?
Sam Poryanda: 
The lessons that I have taken away from my experience as a captain on the basketball team will be instrumental in my success both at a collegiate level as well as in my future career. Coming in freshman year, I knew that in order to achieve great success I had to learn to discipline myself in all aspects of the game. Not only did I discipline myself on the court, but off the court in the classroom too. Most importantly, I learned that with everything you do in life, you must strive to surpass your capabilities. This yields hard work and preparation, the two most crucial keys to success. Being a captain, I quickly realized that it is vital for me to set a strong example and to be a positive leader. I continue to motivate all of teammates to work together and keep up the energy and enthusiasm in all practices and games. The last thing I have taken away from my experience of playing basketball is that with anything you attempt in the future, you must be confident; confident in yourself and confident in all of those around you. 

Branford Patch: How has the high school basketball team performed this year?
Sam Poryanda: 
The basketball team has performed extremely well. We have a very talented team this year and we have all played with each other in the past, thus yielding great team chemistry. I strongly believe we have a great opportunity to make it far into SCC and state tournaments. After losing two of our starting seniors (from last year's team), it has pushed us to excel and take over their roles. This year, we have definitely proven that we are able to compete with the top teams in the state. We started off our season with six straight wins. We recently lost two heartbreakers to both Career (by one) and Wilbur Cross (by seven). Though we didn’t come out victorious, we definitely made a statement proving we are a true contending team. We are looking forward to bounce back from our losses and any other difficulties we may face in the future.

Branford Patch: Talk about your experiences with the "Shoot for SARAH Tuxis" basketball clinic?
Sam Poryanda: 
I took on the task of coordinating a basketball clinic where many clients learned the fundamentals of the game and got the opportunity to compete against one another. Most importantly they had a chance to display their athletic enthusiasm for the sport. My main objective, however, was to create and advertise a fundraiser, called “Shoot for SARAH Tuxis”, in which clients and the community would participate. Each participant had one or more sponsors that pledged to donate money for every foul shot made. All of the proceeds benefited the Residents Travel Club, a group within SARAH, which allows the clients to fulfill their dreams of traveling to various destinations. The Residents Travel Club promotes diversity in our community by allowing the interactions between the differently disabled and the community.

Branford Patch: How did you get involved in it and why was it so important to you?
Sam Poryanda: 
I have been involved with the clients at SARAH Tuxis for thirteen years, since my mother has worked there. While volunteering with the clients, many showed high interest in sports. On the other hand, many were unable to get a chance to play. With my passion being basketball, I thought it would be an altruistic way of sharing my knowledge, ability, and love to those who expressed the same interest in the game as well. The basketball clinic and fundraiser was a true accomplishment to me. Personally, it was not about the amount of money we raised at the end of the day, it was the ultimate satisfaction I received when seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter come from the clients when playing together. It was an indescribable feeling; one that I will cherish for life. In the future, I am already preparing more events similar to this one that will expose the clients to other athletic activities that will bring them happiness.

Branford Patch: What are your plans for the future?
Sam Poryanda: 
Following high school, I will be attending college. Some of my top choices for schools consist of Providence College, College of the Holy Cross, Trinity College and Fairfield University. In college I plan on studying environmental engineering.


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