A path that today brought her to France but going through the United States.
We interviewed Vicky Giommarini (Maria Victoria, but Vicky for all), born in 1996 in Argentina, but raised in Italy: after the experience in the youth teams with the most successful club in Italy (Volleyrò), the departure for the States, a degree in Environmental Sciences at VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) and a championship title; a few weeks ago she moved to Clamart, a small French town close to Paris, where she started training with her new team.
Let's start from current events, today you are in France. Tell us where do you play and what are you studying. What environment did you find there? Initially I decided to only devote myself to studying and do my masters in Europe given these uncertain times, but later speaking to a friend I said to myself: "Why not keep doing both!". So I contacted my agent and after several offers I decided to play in Clamart. The club (which plays in Ligue Nationale 1) welcomed me with great enthusiasm and kindness. While not everyone spaks English, they go out of their way to make themselves understood. Fortunately, there are some girls who speak it very well and translate what they say or the drills for me.
You are very young but you have already had the opportunity to play in Italy, in America and today in France. What differences did you find at the volleyball level in terms of training and competition? The biggest difference I found is that the American system pays a lot of attention on weights and teamwork. If someone makes a mistake, from not wearing the right outfit or not showing up on time, the entire team gets punished, never individual. The level of the competition and the practice are similar in all three countries, the only thing that varies are some game rules but nothing more.
You grew up athletically in Volleyrò, one of the best youth club in Italy if not the numer one. How much playing in an environment like this effected your growth and what were the fundamental steps of your experience there? Is there a particular coach you owe a lot to? Playing at Volleyrò has had a big impact on my volleyball formation. Thanks to them I had a solid foundation and unforgettable experiences such as winning a National Title! All the coaches have helped me to be the player I am today. Alessandro Giovannetti was my first coach at Volleyrò and he was the one who taught me to love volleyball and gave me solid foundations: if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be able to pass! To consolidate these foundations and to strenght my character were Luca Pieragnoli and Luca Cristofani. They significantly contributed to my training as an athlete. Thanks to both of them I know what hard work is. Plus, they taught me to be determined and never give up.
Thanks to Sportlinx360 you landed in Virginia, to study and play for Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) with a scholarship. You graduated in Environmental Sciences and played with the University's volleyball team. But before your departure something happened. Can you tell us your story before you landed in Virginia? Before going to play in Virginia I played for 2 years in two B1 teams away from home. Since up until that time I had never lived alone or with roommates, I decided to do some experience. The first year wasn't easy, but with the support of my family and firends, I moved on. During these two years I became more independent, and I improved my English. I delayed my departure to the States for a year and the coach and the college waited for me, keeping my scholarship for the following year: something that gave me further confirmation that I have chosen the right place for me.
Let's talk about the American experience. Being a student-athlete is something exciting but at the same time heavy. How was the impact in an academic and athletic reality totally different from Italy? How much and how has your life changed? In Italy, I was used to come back late at night and study late, which made me a very organized person, making it easier for me to transition to America. The heaviest part is when you play (therefore from August to November), because you travel a lot, you lose lessons and you have to catch up on tests. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to have an advisor who supports you in organizing your semester schedule. This person helps you with the choice of classes and times in order to make everything a little easier and to miss the least number of lessons.
It was definitely an important experience for you. What did this give you or rather, what did it leave you, on an athletical and above all human level? It is an experience that I would do with my eyes closed. At a volleyball level, it made me understand the importance of the team, of playing not for yourself but for your team, to trust each other. Also being a captain for two years has helped me to express and communicate with different personalities, to make decisions that affect not only myself but also my team and be a role model for the younger ones. On a human level, it has not only made me much more mature and responsible, but also much more outgoing.
If you had to mention three unforgettable moments from your American experience which one would you particularly remember? It's hard to choose only three moments. But the ones that stuck in my mind the most are when I arrived at my University and my coahces showed me the campus. I still remember my first thought was: "Wow, it feels like being in a movie!". Back then my campus seemes so big that I thought I was going to get lost, but over time I got used to it.
The second unforgettable moment is when we won the championship in 2017. Our school hadn't won it since 2005!
The third was my Senior Night. The senior night is an event dedicated to athletes in their last year of university: before the start of the last home game, all student-athletes of the last year are accompained by their family memebrs to receive the honors.
Unfortunately, my parent were not able to come, so I asked my strenght coach to accompany me: a person I respect very much and who has helped me a lot in my growth both personally and in the gym. The unforgettable moment was when I asked him if he could accompany me, he looked at me with shining eyes and hugged me telling me that it would be an honor and that no one in 20 years of his career has ever asked him.
Now that you are in France, what do you expect from this new adventure? For now I just hope that the season doesn't get canceled! I expect to live many great experiences and to grow even more personally and as an athlete.