TAYLORSVILLE Tia Palauni is the quiet-type leader who can command attention without screaming and yelling. Taylorsville's point guard understands leadership and realizes its importance.
"They need somebody out there to take charge," she said in describing her role on the team. And she stated her strongest skill: "I am decent at seeing the floor and finding people open."
Yet her coach, Jace Hymas, speaks of her leadership role in terms of counsel and advice given not necessarily in the heat of battle. He uses words like "maturity," "wisdom" and "wise counsel" that she either gives to team members or it rubs off by example.
"She speaks kidspeak," he said. "And it is a tremendous asset to have an interpreter."
Perhaps Palauni, a senior, gained much of her maturity and wisdom from playing with older kids as she grew up. She played club basketball, traveling the country, and she told about great relationships and friends from the time she was in grade school. Asked if this same group was still together at Taylorsville she replied, "Oh no, they were all older. They are in college now."
She will be following them to college to play ball. But it won't be basketball. She has already accepted a scholarship to play softball at the University of Utah. Palauni explained why softball over basketball: "Softball has been instinct for me."
With the reputation Taylorsville has of turning out star athletes on the diamond, it is not surprising that Palauni chose softball over basketball, but for now she will continue to do her thing on the hardwoods, which is, besides leadership, driving to the basket and getting the ball to an open player. She scores at 8.5 points per game, but she gets the ball into the hands of leading scorers Katee Balmforth and Marisha Black.
Balmforth has known Palauni since the first grade and knows her abilities.
"Tia is the leader of the team," she said. "She pretty much holds everything together."
Balmforth also added, "She is one of the most kind, patient and loving persons you will ever meet."
Palauni can attribute her wise personality to her family. She made mention of the fact she spends a lot of time with her family. She sings and plays the ukulele with her family.
"We kind of make our own music," she said.
She emphasized she does not perform with her family, although they do perform from time to time.
How does Palauni see herself?"I always have made everybody laugh and I cheer people up," she said.