When Sophia Albanese began high school, she traded the dance stage for the volleyball court, moving on from several years of classical ballet training to take on a new adventure in sports. The experience of being on a team has been a refreshing change for the Cornelia Connelly High School senior.
“Ballet was always so individual. It’s just really great to be on a team,” says Albanese. “It’s so much fun to get to know your teammates. It’s nice to have that bond.”
But the four-year varsity player acknowledges how her dance background has assisted in her transition to volleyball in knowing how to use her body and how to not get caught up in the comparison game.
“It’s difficult starting off a sport so late in your life. Having that ballet training did help. I know how my body works; I know how to move it,” says the 17-year-old. “Comparing yourself is kind of scary and difficult, but you have to learn not to compare yourself to other people.”
As the team’s sole captain, and dealing with an injury to start the season, Albanese rose to the challenge when called upon to lead the Koalas.
“Starting off your senior year injured isn’t what any athlete would want, but Sophia didn’t let that stop her from instantly stepping into the leadership role,” says Connelly’s head volleyball coach, Megan Marrujo. “We asked a lot of Sophia. We asked her to change her position and challenged her to become an all around player. Sophia has grown into an outstanding volleyball player and leader over the past four years. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for her in college.”
Playing in her final high school year, Albanese reflects on how the team aspect of the sport and their collective focus on faith has impacted her time at Connelly.
“Volleyball is such a team sport. Every single person on the court matters so much,” says Albanese. “We always keep God in mind when we’re playing. We don’t pray to win. We just want to do our best.”
Away from volleyball, Albanese is a participant on Connelly’s Mock Trial team. She also serves her community through National Charity League, where she enjoys helping people and making a difference.
The Whittier resident is looking into college options, hoping to find an academic fit while being able to continue her volleyball career. Albanese is grateful for her mom’s guidance, which allows her to be herself and encourages her when the road gets rough.
“I’d have to say my mom (is my role model), because I’m a perfectionist. So if I don’t do my best…I will get really down on myself,” says Albanese. “She’s always there for me to keep me going, reassuring me that it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s really great to have a person like that in my life.”