VENELLA: Tale of manager’s hardwork and enjoyment

Allison Venella

“Every story has an end …”

No one ever said it would be easy. After four years as the manager of the softball team, I now realize the enormity of the undertaking I made in the fall of 2004 as a freshman at Villanova. I had managed softball in high school and decided to take a chance and see if Coach Maria DiBernardi would need someone to help out the team. She took a chance and allowed me to be the manager, a first in Villanova softball history, effective immediately.

Four years later, the challenges, experiences and successes are coming to an end. However, the ups and downs and good and bad of the past four years have formed two things that will remain with me for the rest of my life: my friendships and memories created with four unique teams.

The last four years have flown by in the blink of an eye, but many experiences involving my time within the Villanova Athletic Department stand out. First and foremost, the work it takes to manage the operation of a Division I collegiate team is unbelievable. I had no clue, yet I learned quickly that in order to remain competitive, organized, respected and valuable, I would have to work hard and learn on my feet how to do my job well. However, it was rather tricky because there was no manager before me. I actually carved out what my job was and how to do it over the four years.

Any kind of collegiate sports team should be listed under the definition of hard work. More times then not, student-athletes understand hard work because of the time and effort put in to enhancing and improving skills even before college. But once you get to college, well, that’s where the challenges get tougher and success is harder to come by.

Freshman year was all-around challenging. From meeting new people to starting with a new team, it was an overall frightening experience. However, I quickly realized that once you are a part of a team, you instantly form bonds that are not broken by even the worst of situations. The ’04-’05 team went 42-13 on the season, earning a trip to the Big East tournament. Going to Southbend, Ind., for the tourney was one of the most exciting experiences of my four years. We were the best of the best that year – the cream of the crop. Only four teams made it to the tournament, and we were lucky enough to be one of them. We were led by a group of eight seniors, and I was lucky enough to be a part of that success as a freshman.

Sophomore year was another story. The downside to having eight seniors graduate is the lack of experience for the underclassmen on the team. And we experienced some nightmare-ish games during the ’05-’06 season. However, winning only 13 games was not enough to break our spirit; it actually made us stronger, as we emerged a changed team. We spent countless hours talking about what should of and could have happened, but my team did not stop fighting. We were with each other through it all – hard work paying off in the form of bonding over the worst of worst of seasons for Villanova softball.

Junior year was better, especially being led by two talented seniors. By year three, I knew what I was doing; I had less anxiety over the expectations of what I should be doing and had two successful seasons under my belt. I continued to take on new roles, even planning travel arrangements and countless team dinners. Over the course of four years I have been involved in the fundraising of over $10,000 for Villanova Softball and have reorganized all internal and external operations of the team.

Travel experiences and spring break are also two of my favorite parts of managing the team. We travel together with over 50 pieces of luggage at all times and a party of 25. We are definitely a sight to be seen in our matching warm-up suits, traveling through airports all over the East Coast. But over the course of four years, I have been to Florida more times then I can count, have seen Notre Dame twice, have been to the nicest softball field ever in Louisville, have traveled to Virginia Tech this spring and have been to both Carolina’s and every other Big East school in the conference. The hard work definitely has paid off through the experiences I have been privy to as a part of the team.

Senior year has definitely been the best. Senior Day has come and gone, and it pointed out to me how much fun I really have had throughout the years. Although the season is coming to a quick end, I have had time to reflect upon the four years of hard work and how many things I have accomplished in such a short amount of time.

Villanova softball has had a profound impact on my life. Not only did I not realize what it took to be a student-athlete before my experiences, I had no idea how strong willed you must be in order to succeed in any life challenge. Inspiration and friendship from teammates was the key to remaining positive. Supporting one another day in and day out was the only way to survive the grueling schedule. My teammates were there for me through it all. We have laughed, cried, sang and danced our way through four years. And through it all, we had each others backs – good days and bad, slumps and streaks. That is the best part of this whole experience.

My Villanova softball story is coming to an end, but as I graduate and finish my fourth year, I will take with me the bonds and friendships and remember them everyday for the rest of my life. The challenges and stress of collegiate athletics have prepared me to move on to the next chapter of my life. The four years, and especially this season, have gone by too quickly, but like all good things, it must come to an end. I will forever remember to love Villanova softball.

“… but in life, every ending is just a new beginning.”


Allison Venella is a senior politcal science major from Haddon Township, N.J. She can be reached at [email protected]