• Peter Miller

SGG #113: Before they were champions: Grace, Gio and Danielle reflect on their youth sports journeys

Research shows us many benefits from participating in athletics. But each young athlete’s journey is different. Three key members of the UW national championship volleyball team, Gio Civita, Danielle Hart, and Grace Loberg, joined SGG to discuss some key aspects of their remarkable pathways through sports.

We discussed:

1. Grace’s initial volleyball experiences with her mom and at school in 4th grade. “It was not good volleyball, but it was so fun!”

2. Danielle started volleyball in 7th grade. Volleyball became an important part of her life during challenging times. “Volleyball became the outlet for me.”

3. Gio’s volleyball experience as a child in Italy. Sports were separated from school. “If you decide to be in sports, it’s like a job.”

4. How sports affected sibling dynamics in their families. Grace: “It was a challenge for my parents balancing everything.”

5. Multi-sport participation decisions, including the importance of supportive coaches who make it work.

6. Factors to consider when choosing a club team.

7. Specific youth sports moments that led to broader opportunity.

8. What coaches are looking for when they recruit young athletes.

9. What caught Coach Sheffield’s eye when he was recruiting her: The way she supported her teammates.

10. The importance of a coach delivering feedback to Danielle.

11. Coaches who do (and don’t) understand the developmental stages of their athletes.

12. Coach Sheffield’s thoughtfulness about “every single thing.”

13. Fostering joy in youth sports.

14. Mental and psychological aspects of getting through injuries. Danielle: Embracing the broader view of the team. Developing empathy. Building leadership skills. Staying connected. Taking it day by day.

15. Gio on going through injuries: “It opened other doors in the long run.”

16. How can we make youth sports better? Danielle: make it less expensive. Grace: scale back the pressure. Gio: balance/integrate academics and athletics.