Julia Sangiacomo signs letter of intent at Santa Clara
When you’re playing on your school’s first-ever Vine Valley Athletic League championship team, as a two-time Napa County Player of the Year with more than 1,000 career kills (and counting), a 4.5 GPA, and a Division 1 scholarship from your parents’ alma mater waiting in the wings, the idea of leaving a legacy behind should carry a lot of weight.
But for Sonoma Valley’s Julia Sangiacomo, Justin-Siena ’19, one of the most decorated athletes in Justin-Siena history, the answer for what she hopes to be remembered for is simple, “I hope to be remembered as a hard worker and a good person.”
With the team currently deep into section and state playoffs, Head Coach Chelsea Reilley, echoes that sentiment, “As one of our captains, she leads by example — she always brings a high level of intensity and effort to every practice and match. She knows what she wants and works hard to get it, which requires a great deal of maturity and self-awareness.”
The list of Sangiacomo’s accomplishments is extensive, putting her in the conversation as one of the greatest athletes in Justin-Siena history. With her senior season awards not yet being announced she currently stands as a two-time defending All-Napa County Player of the Year, All-MCAL 1st and 2nd team selection, and as a junior named to the CBS MaxPreps.com California All-State Volleyball Team in Division 3.
On the court, the 6 foot 5 Sangiacomo makes for an imposing figure for the champion Braves, according to Coach Reilley. “She can hit harder and higher than most, but she can also read opposing blocks and defenses mid-air, then hit the ball accordingly based on what she sees. Totally difficult – and scary – to defend against; there just aren’t many teams that can stop her.”
In addition to her on-the-court prowess and strong inner drive, she hasn’t been afraid to lean on her coaches and teammates as they’ve made it all the way to the championship level this year. Sangiacomo says, “My teammates motivate me on the court. You play for the people next to you.”
This has been very apparent as the Braves charged to the VVAL title and continue into section and state playoffs. After a slower finish in their 2017 season, the Braves have seemingly been getting better as the season advances. Sangiacomo said some early season success led to the team’s confidence.
On a personal level, she cites a competitive nature that was nurtured by growing up in a family of athletes as well as being a perfectionist, “ever since I was little.”
Growing up with her brothers may have also played a big part.
“Part of the reason why I am so competitive is from my brothers. We always played sports growing up.”
Despite her powerful presence, she leads in a humble manner according to Reilley. “So many players of her caliber have egos and attitude, but Julia has none of that,” said Reilly. “And sometimes it becomes the ‘Julia Show’ on the court because we rely so much on her abilities, but she’s also the first to celebrate the team and encourage her teammates to excel.”
A family tradition
The middle child of a second generation Justin-Siena family, Sangiacomo’s roots at Justin-Siena run deep. Her father, Mike Sangiacomo ’87, played both football and baseball at Justin-Siena; older brother Joey Sangiacomo ’16 played basketball and baseball for the Braves and younger brother Robbie Sangiacomo ’22 is planning to be a 3-sport athlete for the Braves. This experience has been very rewarding for the family according to Mike. “Watching Julia develop physically, academically and spiritually at Justin-Siena has been very rewarding,” said Mike Sangiacomo. “I had a great experience at Justin-Siena years ago and she seems to be accomplishing and contributing more than I could have imagined.”
Taking the family piece further, Sangiacomo is an early commit athlete to Santa Clara University where she hopes to major in biology or medicine. Santa Clara is where her parents met and her dad was also a standout tight end on the football team. She will be the third-generation Sangiacomo to play for the Broncos. While the family tie was important here, it wasn’t all that led Julia to competing in the West Coast Conference. Sangiacomo feels a connection to the campus and program itself. “I fell in love with the campus and really like the coaching staff.”
Both Julia and her family are excited to see what she takes from her high school experience on to the next level, “We are very proud of her and look forward to her taking what she has learned at Justin-Siena to create her own experiences at another Catholic school.
When asked about how she feels about the upcoming transition from Justin-Siena to Santa Clara, Sangiacomo was quick to reply, “I’m excited to go their and play. I feel ready.”