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TARA MULLEN (2) LEADS her Monticello teammates in the traditional postgame handshake after a contest versus Cornwall this past volleyball season.

Meet Tara Mullen

By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO — December 2, 2003 – Tara Mullen ought to know she’s somebody special.
The Wurtsboro teenager has a resume worthy of a second glance.
She’s maintained honor roll worthy grades while dominating the court on Monticello High School’s championship volleyball team.
She spends time with her family and friends and helps raise money with the Interact Club.
And on Saturdays, Mullen gives up everything the average teenager wants to pursue and gets in the car to spend time in Pine Bush working with folks with special needs.
A strong swimmer, Mullen saw her niche as a lifeguard and swimming instructor for people with disabilities training for the Special Olympics.
Her brother, Terry, her own “personal cheerleader,” has down syndrome and participates in the freestyle in the premiere athletic event for the disabled.
And Tara wants to help people like him, make a difference in their lives.
“I love it, and the kids are so cute,” she said. “When they accomplish something, when they swim all the way to the other end of the pool, you feel like you really made a difference in their lives.
“It’s very rewarding.”
This from a girl who was aghast at the very suggestion that one day she’d have to make a choice if sports were no longer an option.
“I don’t know what I’d do,” she said. “I guess I’d probably concentrate more on my schoolwork, but I’d be really upset.”
Mullen has her priorities in line. First comes family, schoolwork and friends. Next in line are sports, with an emphasis on volleyball.
She owes a lot of that to Monticello Coach Karen Atack, she said.
“[Coach Atack] is such a great influence even outside of school,” Mullen said. “She always says sports aren’t the most important thing – your family and school come first.
“She made me straighten out my priorities.”
With all her love for volleyball, Mullen has given up playing Whoosh, a special league for teens that took up much of her time over the past two years.
This year she wants to concentrate on other things, on preparing for college, on volunteering.
“It’s really time consuming,” Mullen explained. “But I loved the girls, and it was a different volleyball game.
“With a different coach, you have a different system,” she continued. “It opened my eyes.”
But Mullen has gotten most of her volleyball knowledge on the Monticello court. She started as a youngster after watching cousin Erin Moore play and fell in love with the game.
“I don’t really know why,” she noted. “It’s the teamwork – I’ve always enjoyed playing with my teams, I’ve never had a bad group of girls.
“It’s a great game.”
Mullen has been a Section IX all-star, was named rookie of the year her sophomore season and been a vibrant part of the Monticello team’s success, playing every position except for setter.
Although this was her last season, Mullen has a lot to look forward to. She intends to attend college in the fall where she’ll study to become a member of the FBI.
She ties her success to a supportive family – parents Terry and Joanne Mullen are always at the game with young Terry by their side cheering her on – and an eye on the future.
“I always try to strive for my goals,” Mullen noted.

Name: Tara Mullen

Age: 17

School and grade: Monticello High School, senior

Hometown: Wurtsboro

Parents and siblings: Mullen is the daughter of Terry and Joanne Mullen. She has a younger brother, Terry, who is 14.

Favorite sport: Volleyball

Favorite athlete: Stanford University volleyball player Logan Thom.

Favorite subject: Social Studies

Future plans: Mullen is looking at several different colleges but hasn’t yet decided where she would like to matriculate. She does know she wants to study history, hopefully leading to a career in the FBI.

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