“When I think of Juliann the words “pure strength”, “power” and “perseverance” come to mind. She is one of the hardest workers I know both on and off the court and her worth ethic is evident when you see her step on the volleyball court, because she is the epitome of a complete athlete. Juliann’s mindset is one that every athlete should train with: do everything you can on and off the court to take care of your body and be the best player you can be. She trains this way and shows her team through her actions that she is doing all she can to be the best for us. It is a true blessing to play with J. As a teammate she works hard and her communication is constructive and extremely helpful. One thing that I find comforting when I play with her is that I know what to expect every time we step on the court together. I know she is going to work for me and it makes me love working for her. As a setter it is pure joy to set a ball to your attacker and see her score with ease…and with Juliann this feeling is really powerful because she is not only a great teammate to me but a really close friend as well. I feel lucky to have her in my life and am happy to say this girl will be a true friend of mine forever. I love her like family.”
Inteview: Matteo Mangiarotti&Cristina Gatti. Foreword: Carli Lloyd. Foto: Fabio Cucchetti, Marco Marengo, Carmelo Poidomani e Riccardo Giuliani.
Juliann, let’s start talking about your experience at College. What can you tell us about that, I mean the daily life, playing volleyball..
College was a really fun experience for me. I loved the school I went to. It is in one of the greatest cities in my opinion. I received one of the best educations and also participated in one of the top volleyball programs. It was difficult to manage both school and volleyball, but I believe through that I developed good communication and management skills that have continued to help me today. Everyday I would wake up, go to classes, eat and then practice. We would travel to games in the middle of the week and have to study while being on the road, which was hard because we had to concentrate on the games and on keeping up our grades. The fan base at our school was amazing and every single night we had a full crowd. All of our sports were this way and it was like a family. I miss it. College taught me a lot about myself and I am really grateful to have had such great people to surround me during my four years there.
In your opinion, why a Country like USA can’t make it for volleyball to become a PRO sport?
I think we lack the money and fan base. Not a lot of people are interested in volleyball outside of the college game. It has taken our country a long time to get volleyball out there. The only time it is really aired is the Olympics and some occasional college matches on TV. There is just more interest in the sport overseas.
I was very nervous. I had been to Europe and Asia before but only for a few weeks at a time. I was away from my family in college but if I ever needed anything they were just a phone call or a simple flight away. When I first left my home last year to come to Italy I had to say goodbye to my whole family and my boyfriend, not knowing if they would get a chance to visit during my nine months away. It was sad and scary, but also thrilling and exciting to know that I would be starting a brand new life in a completely different country. I was excited to learn the culture and play a higher level of volleyball. I learned a lot last season, and I know that I will continue to learn more as long as I continue to play. This profession gives me an opportunity to experience life in new ways and do things that people don’t get the chance to do everyday. I feel lucky and privileged to be in the position I am in right now.
Which are the greatest difference in physical preparation, between USA and Italy?
I feel like I have always separated myself from everyone else by simply being physical. I strive to prepare my body for my work in a way that no one else does. I am very competitive and I get that from both of my parents, who are in the fitness industry and have been since I was born. I was raised to know about my muscles and my physique, so whether I am in Italy or the US, I will always strive to be the best in that category. So, to best answer this question I would have to say that my physical preparation doesn’t change, so I don’t see a difference.
US athletes usually have a great dialogue among them, which is a different thing compared to what happens in Italy. What do you think about that? D’you think is a weak point for the Italian athletes?
We have been taught to communicate well with each other since we decided to start playing volleyball. Every coach that I have played under has told us about the importance of communication within the court. I think this season having Carli Lloyd on my team, whom I have played with for three years, shows that we value this principle.
I have played with USA in many different situations. From the junior level, to the National level. In 2008, I was on the training team hoping to make the Olympics in Beijing that year. This time around, I wasn’t so fortunate. I wasn’t willing to leave college early so that I could train in the spring. So when summer time came around, there wasn’t enough room for me to train with the squad. I wanted to finish my schooling and get my degree, and that is a decision I am very happy with. It wasn’t my time this year, but I will be striving for 2016. I believe that I have a chance if I work hard and continue to get better. I will never give up on that dream.
What’s your greatest source of inspiration? I mean, on the court and in your daily life…
I think one of the biggest things is knowing that I have not reached my full potential yet. I still have so much more to learn and a lot more growing to do. This motivates me to train hard, attack my weaknesses and get to the point where I am the best I can be. I want to be an Olympian and I want to inspire young players all around me. I want to be the best at what I do, and that is what inspires me.
Both are really great coaches. Salvagni was so nice and a really fun person. I am still getting to know Parisi but I have already learned so much from him about my game and I am really happy to be playing under him. They have two different coaching styles and I respect both of them.
Last season in Urbino you as a team made a great job, reaching Coppa Italia Final Four and the playoff. This season you play in, maybe, the best team in Italy at the moment. Which are your expectations? Personally speaking.
Personally, I would love to win. I don’t like to say expectations- to me, that comes with pressure. I like to set goals and strive to achieve them. The goal is always to win.
Your first impressions from the new experience in Busto Arsizio, at Yamamay.
I have been treated so well here, by the program and the fans. I love it and I am very happy.
How do you keep in touch with your family and friends overseas?
The computer is the best way to stay in touch. Skype and messages. I recently just got internet on my phone so that no matter where I am, I can talk with my parents, sisters and friends.