Gianna Grassifulli had to make some decisions when she got to high school.
It wasn’t ones many high school athletes have to make.
Grassifulli recently finished her sophomore year at Archbishop Ryan High School, and she was forced to narrow down the sports she plays. But this Ragdoll didn’t have to go from two sports to one, or even three sports to two.
Grassifulli is an athlete, not a specialist, but she did have to forgo three of her sports. But she still plays three at Ryan.
“Growing up, I would play six sports, but I couldn’t really do that in high school because of the sports I play,” said Grassifulli, who stars on the soccer, basketball and softball teams at Ryan. “Growing up, I also did track, swimming and lacrosse, but I couldn’t do six in high school. I miss them a little bit, especially swimming, that was my favorite of the ones I’m not doing anymore, but I like them all.
“I love Ryan because they didn’t make me pick. I was able to play whatever I wanted. They all let me play the other sports. I didn’t have to miss any time at any of them, either. I didn’t have a lot of time off, usually just a week or a little more, but I’m usually in good shape because I play the other sports. It works out really well.”
Grassifulli needs to be ready to play because she’s a star in all three of her sports.
In soccer, she plays in the midfield and as a sophomore was a key player for the Ragdolls, who won the Catholic League championship last year.
In basketball, Grassifulli is a star guard, but last year because of the makeup of the team, she was forced to move into the paint. She still excelled, doing whatever the team needed.
And in softball, which didn’t happen because of coronavirus, she was expected to be the starting pitcher on a team that routinely competes for the Catholic League championship.
Having a key role on three sports that are almost always expected to be among the best in the Catholic League is pressure, but Grassifulli loves it. And don’t ask her to pick a favorite, because it’s not that she won’t.
It’s that she can’t.
“I really love all three, I won’t pick because I don’t know,” Grassifulli said. “Soccer this year was probably the best because we won the championship. That was great. It’s always fun to win. But I don’t like soccer the best. I love all three.
“We should be really good in soccer next year again. We had a great year last year and we have most of the team back. We should be really good. Our goal is to win the championship.”
Soccer should be very much the same.
Basketball, she hopes, will be very much different.
The Ragdolls weren’t very successful last year. They finished 0-12 during the regular season but there were a few reasons for the struggles. First, the Catholic League broke it down by Red and Blue divisions and the Ragdolls went up against some of the best teams in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Also, Ryan was young. The team started mostly underclassmen, and their introduction to varsity basketball came against a lot of Division I players.
That should be much different this year.
“A lot of the teams we played this year had seniors graduate and we have most of our team coming back and we now have a lot of experience,” said Grassifulli, who will likely play forward next year again. “We should be good next year, I think. It was hard this year because we were going against great players, but I think we’ll be a lot better next year. We’ll be back, and a lot of them won’t be.”
Softball should once again be good.
Ryan has been the best team in the Catholic League over the last decade, and that should continue next year. It will be tough, the league is always balanced, but the Ragdolls have a star pitcher ready to lead the way.
“I played last year, but this year was the first time I was going to be the pitcher,” Grassifulli said. “I pitched in one game, it was preseason. We played Penn Charter and we won. I don’t remember how many runs I gave up, but I did good. They’re a great team, they can hit pretty well, but I thought I did pretty good. I wanted to have the season, we were all upset we couldn’t play.”
Grassifulli hopes her summer returns to somewhat normal. She plays AAU basketball and the 5-foot-8 guard hopes to expand her game and get in great shape.
But if that doesn’t happen, she’ll continue to work out on her own. And she’ll be ready to represent Ryan when the school year starts.
And she couldn’t be happier representing the Ragdolls.
Growing up, the Torresdale resident often participated in Ryan camps, and that’s when she became a Ragdoll.
Now she’s happy she made those trips.
“I always really wanted to go to Ryan because when I went to the camps, I loved it,” Grassifulli said. “I loved it then. And I still love it. I love all three teams I’m playing for.”
But don’t ask her to pick a favorite.
“I really can’t, I couldn’t imagine not playing any of them,” Grassifulli said. “I can’t pick. I love them all and I love playing all those sports.
“I just want to win a championship in all three sports before I graduate. We did it in soccer, but I still want to win in the other two. That’s my goal.”