Pizzasegola succeeding far from home

first_imgErnest Hemingway often referred to the valley of Val Trebbia in Northern Italy as one of the most beautiful places in the world. Massive green trees dot the valley, while the crystal clear Trebbia River flows slowly through the basin. In this valley sits a small town named Rivergaro, with roughly 7,000 inhabitants. Twice a year, USC sophomore setter Alice Pizzasegola returns to her hometown to relax with her family.Italy’s best · Sophomore setter Alice Pizzasegola has racked up 513 assists and 91 digs thus far. Head coach Mick Haley noticed Pizzasegola after the native of Rivergaro, Italy, sent highlight tapes to several NCAA programs. – Matthew Woo | Daily Trojan Pizzasegola fell in love with the river and would do anything she could to stay in the water.“I think it is my habitat. I can stay in the water for hours and just relax there,” Pizzasegola said. “Every time I see a swimming pool, I just have to jump in it.”At the age of four, Pizzasegola enrolled in a swimming club called Nuotatori Piacentini. She competed for seven years until she realized that she didn’t like competing against the clock. She still loves to swim, but at the age of 10 she found her true calling: volleyball.Today, Pizzasegola is a sophomore setter for the USC women’s volleyball team. Already a two-year starter, she has come a long way from her Italian home.As a little girl, Pizzasegola met former All-American Stanford volleyball player Ogonna Nnamani, who told Pizzasegola to go to the United States after high school to study and play volleyball. Pizzasegola was skeptical and had no idea what would be in store for her.During her last year of high school, her father asked her about heading overseas. Though this caught her off guard, her dad pushed a little bit, and Pizzasegola started to consider the idea of coming to the United States for college.Since she was an international student, the recruiting process was extremely difficult. Few college coaches in the United States traveled to Italy to watch her play, so Pizzasegola had to create recruiting videos, send them to colleges and hope that someone liked what they saw.With a little bit of luck after a setter quit the team, USC had an opening and head coach Mick Haley quickly sent associate head coach Tim Nollan and his wife to Italy to scout Pizzasegola.“[Nollan] thought she could work into a very good player for us and was a very good team player,” Haley said. “She also really wanted an education in the United States.”One night, Pizzasegola received a call from Nollan offering her a scholarship to USC. Soon after, she moved halfway around the world to Los Angeles.Not knowing anyone in the United States, she roomed with fellow freshman teammates Elise Ruddins, Ebony Nwanebu and Taylor Whittingham. On her first night, Pizzasegola went to sleep early because she was jetlagged while the others went out. They returned home with McDonald’s and woke up Pizzasegola. She walked into the kitchen and yelled her first English word to her teammates — nuggets. The nickname has stuck with her.The next three months would be the hardest she ever faced. Living in a dorm room and feeling homesick, Pizzasegola contemplated returning home to be with her parents and her brother, Filippo. But she found comfort in the gym with her new family, the USC women’s volleyball team.Being in the States for such a short time, Pizzasegola spoke very little English and had to pick up the language quickly in order to communicate with her teammates on the court. It was difficult for her to learn before an unlikely hero came to her rescue.“Graduate manager Umberto Gatti is also from Italy, and he could speak fluent Italian with her and got us over the hump,” Haley said. “Umberto [Gatti] was critical in this process because he made her comfortable every day. When she couldn’t understand the English slang he would fill her in and point her in the right direction.”As she began to learn the language, Pizzasegola became the second setter in USC’s 6-2 offense. During her freshman year she accumulated 701 assists and did what she always wanted to do — contribute.This thought finally occurred to Pizzasegola in last year’s regional final game against No. 3 Washington.“It was the biggest game ever,” Pizzasegola said. “I waited my entire life to play in a game like that, and I thought, ‘I am going to play in the most important game of my life.’ We lost, but afterwards I realized I made it. I was still crying but I knew I made it with my teammates, my coaches and by myself.”Even after that tough loss, what has never faltered on the court has been her attitude. While playing the sport she loves, she can be seen smiling, jumping around after a great play and always staying positive. Her teammates notice and admire her positive attitude.“She is a strong girl, and she always has fight in her, which is something I really admire,” Ruddins said. “No matter what point it is in the game, she always has that fire in her, and she is so supportive.”Though this season has not gone exactly the way the Women of Troy wanted it to, Pizzasegola has kept her positivity throughout. She still believes that her team can win a National Championship. So far this season, Pizzasegola has 513 assists and 91 digs.There is no doubt that Pizzasegola has pushed through obstacles in her life and come out stronger because of them, and always with a smile wide across her face.last_img read more

LA Clippers: A history filled with drama and chaos

first_imgIn the 31-plus years since the Clippers arrived here from San Diego, it’s been anything but a smooth ride.Welcome to Los Angeles.And while every pro sports team has its share of drama — and we all know the Lakers, Dodgers and Kings have experienced that — no team has quite cornered the market on head-scratchers and upheaval quite like the Clippers.The latest incident is an altercation between Blake Griffin and assistant equipment manager Matias Testi at a Toronto restaurant that has left the star forward with a broken hand and the franchise with yet another black eye. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Here’s a timeline of some of the chaos the Clippers have endured over the years.1984: The Clippers get off to a poor start as soon as they move from San Diego to Los Angeles to play in the Sports Arena prior to the 1984-85 season. The NBA had not approved the move and fined owner Donald Sterling $25 million. The fine was reduced to $6 million when Sterling threatened to sue for $100 million.1985: After trading away Bill Walton to Boston for the No. 3 pick in the draft, the Clippers select Creighton center Benoit Benjamin, who turns out to be a bust. Hall of Famers Chris Mullin and Karl Malone were among those taken after Benjamin.1985: Derek Smith, who averaged 22.1 points in the 1984-85 season, blows out his knee 11 games into the 1985-86 campaign and never has another season like he did in ‘84-’85.1987: The Clippers have three first-round draft choices and select Reggie Williams (fourth), Joe Wolf (13th) and Ken Norman (19th). Others they could have taken included Scottie Pippen (fifth), Kevin Johnson (seventh) and Reggie Miller (11th) and Mark Jackson (18th).center_img 1988: Michael Cage collects 30 rebounds in the final game of the 1987-88 season to win the rebounding title with a 13.0 average. He also averaged 14.5 points. His reward? GM Elgin Baylor trades him during the off-season for the rights to point guard Gary Grant, who had two nice seasons for the Clippers before tailing off.1988: The Clippers select Danny Manning first overall in the draft, but he goes down just 26 games into his rookie season with a torn ACL.1989: The Clippers draft Danny Ferry second overall in the draft. He refuses to play for the Clippers and goes to play in Italy. The Clippers trade his rights along with Reggie Williams to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ron Harper, two first-round draft picks and a second-round pick.1990: The Clippers draft Loyola Marymount’s Bo Kimble with the seventh overall pick in the draft. Kimble plays parts of two seasons with the Clippers and one with the Knicks, averaging 5.5 points in 105 games. The Clippers did take Loy Vaught No. 13 in that draft, who fares much better than Kimble.1992: The Clippers make the playoffs for the first time since the 1975-76 season, when the franchise was in Buffalo. Utah wins the first-round series in the fifth and deciding game. The Clippers had to move the second of their home games in that series to the Anaheim Convention Center because of the Los Angeles riots brought on by the Rodney King beating.1993: Coach Larry Brown leaves the team after coaching it for the second half of the 1991-92 and all of 1992-93. The Clippers made the playoffs both seasons but does not touch the .500 mark again until 2005-06.1998: The Clippers draft center Michael Olowokandi with the first pick overall. He never pans out, averaging 10.1 points and 8.1 rebounds over five seasons with the team.2001: With the third overall pick, the Clippers select forward Darius Miles, the highest a player had been drafted directly from high school. He lasts two seasons, never averaging more than 10 points or six rebounds in either one, before getting traded with Harold Jamison to Cleveland for Andre Miller and Bryant Stith.2004: The Clippers make a pitch to sign Kobe Bryant away from the Lakers. Not only does Bryant re-sign with the Lakers, using the Clippers as leverage, the Clippers lose Quentin Richardson to free agency. 2007: Coming off a 2006-07 season in which he averaged 20.5 points and 9.3 rebounds, Elton Brand is just eight games into the 2007-08 season when he suffers a ruptured Achilles’ tendon and is out for the year.2007: Guard Shaun Livingston sustains a gruesome dislocated knee injury during a game and misses the rest of the 2006-07 season and all of 2007-08.2009: Longtime general manager Elgin Baylor files an employment discrimination lawsuit against Sterling, charging race and age discrimination after he was fired after 22 years at the helm. Baylor eventually drops the racial part of the suit, and loses the rest of the suit when its remaining claims are dismissed in a Los Angeles court. 2009: No. 1 overall pick Griffin breaks his knee cap during an exhibition game, so his rookie season has to wait a year until 2010-11.2010: Sterling, from his courtside seat at Staples Center, heckles guard Baron Davis about his play and weight.2013: The Clippers lead the Memphis Grizzlies 2-0 in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, but lose the next four games to lose the series.April 2014: Sterling is banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million after recordings are made public of him making racist comments during a private telephone conversation with female companion V. Stiviano. In 2003 and 2006, Sterling had also been sued for housing discrimination. Race was a factor in both suits. The team is eventually sold by Sterling’s wife, Shelly, to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion in August.May 2014: The Clippers have a seven-point lead at Oklahoma City with 49 seconds left in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals after Chris Paul sinks a 17-footer and pounds his chest at the OKC crowd. The Clippers fall apart and lose 105-104 with Paul committing two turnovers down the stretch as well as fouling Russell Westbrook from 3-point range with six seconds left, accounting for the game’s final three points. Instead of the Clippers taking a 3-2 series lead back to L.A., the Thunder does and beats the Clippers in Game 6 at Staples Center to advance to the conference finals. November 2014: Griffin is charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly grabbing a man by the neck at a Las Vegas nightclub after the man was trying to take pictures of Griffin with his phone. Griffin was not prosecuted.May 2015: The Clippers lead the Houston Rockets by 19 points late in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals at Staples Center, only to be outscored by 31 points the rest of the way. The Rockets win the series with a victory in Game 7 at Houston, once again denying the Clippers their first trip to the conference finals in franchise history.Christmas 2015: Griffin sustains a partially torn left quad tendon and misses 14 consecutive games (and counting).January 2016: Griffin punches out a team equipment staffer in, and outside, of a restaurant in Toronto. Griffin sustains a broken hand and will miss several more weeks.last_img read more