There are certain qualities that make great athletes great: leadership, humility, skill, competitiveness and accomplishments. Senior shortstop Cayla Broussard checks all five off the list. However, the one quality that sets her apart, and the one that has led her to such incredible accomplishments, is her faith in the Lord.
Broussard’s love for sports was instilled at a young age. She grew up in a competitive athletic household, much like her father. As children, her father placed Broussard, her older brother CJ and older sister Charity in every sport imaginable.
“He saw that we were all pretty athletic at a very young age. I think if we ever didn’t love it, he would be okay with that, but he wanted us to at least try,” Broussard said.
Broussard played a variety of sports for five years, but at age 12 she finally picked softball as the sport she was most passionate about and stuck with it. Her older sister was involved in softball too, which only made Broussard love the sport more.
In high school, Broussard quickly made a name for herself. In her hometown, Clovis, California, Broussard played four years of varsity high school softball at Clovis High. She asserted herself as a leader earning the captain’s position for three years.
As a freshman, Broussard was named rookie of the year, and the awards only multiplied from there. Broussard was named first team All-Tri River Athletic Conference all four year, recognized as a National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American for three year, named first-team All-Section and recognized twice as Most Valuable Player.
In addition to dominating softball, Broussard also excelled in volleyball. She played as a libero for two years on varsity and served as captain for one season. While she enjoyed both sports, softball was her passion.
“I’ve always honestly loved volleyball more. It was more fun for me. But I have always been better at softball. I think softball is more my passion. I can’t imagine my life without it,” Broussard said. “Volleyball was more my hobby. So when it got time to think about college and what that would look like, I never thought of volleyball as an option.”
Broussard grew up in a Christian environment. Her parents worked for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) for about 20 years. FCA is an interdenominational Christian sports ministry where student-athletes of all ages can play a variety of sports during the day and engage in worship at night. The organization’s vision, “To see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes,” played directly into Broussard’s life and essentially changed her future.
Every summer Broussard would participate in the FCA camps, and that’s where she met someone who changed her life.
“Going into freshman year of high school I had an FCA huddle leader from APU, and that was the first time I heard of Azusa [APU]. She was the coolest person in the world. I was 14, but she was pretty and in college, so I loved her. I fell in love with everything that she was, everything that she stood for, and Azusa, because she went there,” Broussard said. “That experience really drew me in to look more into APU. At that age, it was the only college I really knew about, so I automatically thought ‘I want to go to APU.’”
The following year, Broussard began to contemplate what a future playing softball at APU would look like.
Broussard reached out in her junior year to APU softball head coach Carrie Webber and communicated her interest to play for the Cougars after graduation. After a series of emails with no replies, Broussard took initiative and visited APU to participate in a camp to showcase her skills.
Webber and Broussard met personally only once that night. After expressing her interest and saying, “I hope to hear from you,” Broussard still was not contacted until several months later.
“I would email her and text her and bug her all the time,” Broussard said. “Then she finally called me and said ‘We want you to come here.’ So I always joke that I recruited myself.”
Despite what initially seemed like unreciprocated interest, Webber has taken Broussard under her wing. In fact, Broussard considers Webber the most influential person in her life.
“My high school coach was an amazing coach and person, but he was not very religious. Everything was strictly softball and very much by the books. It was win or nothing,” Broussard said. “But when I came here, everything was different. Coach [Webber] teaches us how to play free. Softball is a game that we love, and we have the talents to play, but life is more than just softball.”
After accepting and embracing that truth, softball changed her for the better. Broussard found herself able to play without the fear of failing.
Webber purposefully takes time out of her day to care for the team as not only players but individuals, too. Broussard noted this intentionality sets Webber apart from all of her previous coaches. Webber hosts team devotionals during the off-season once a week, holds prayers before every practice and game and implements Christ into every conversation on and off the field.
Broussard’s unwavering faith has blessed her with an undeniably successful four seasons playing for APU. She is now captain of the team.
Broussard has started every game since freshman year, an accomplishment that speaks for itself. She has collected many awards throughout her collegiate career, most recently on Feb. 27, Broussard was named PacWest Player of the Week following an amazing performance against Adelphi and Concordia where she batted .692. Broussard attributed this great batting average to her confidence.
“I’m pretty confident normally, but I went into those games with a crazy amount of confidence. Almost like a ‘I’m going to fake it until I make it’ mentality,” Broussard said. “I was excited to go against [Callie Nunes]. She’s really good; she got pitcher of the year last year as a freshman.”
As the lead off batter for the Cougars, Broussard was determined to end the three-game no-hitter streak Nunes was on.
“I kept telling myself that I was going to be the one to end the streak. I said it so much that I believed it,” said Broussard.
Sure enough, Broussard got a hit in her first at-bat.
The confidence that fills Broussard is one that stems from knowing who she is in Christ. As a captain, she tries to implement that same confidence and faith in one’s capabilities to her teammates.
“Growing up in a faith-based atmosphere and being taught how to implement Christ into athletics since I was little helped transform who I am now,” said Broussard.
Without APU and it’s God-centered values, Broussard cannot imagine where she would be now.
After graduation, Broussard hopes to coach the team as a grad assistant while pursuing her masters in psychology at APU. There is no telling what the future holds, but Broussard’s will undoubtedly be one to watch.