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Gioia gives it her all for WSW

by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor

Time management.

You will hear that phrase a lot from West Seneca West three-sport athlete Arianna Gioia. When the high school season begins in mid August every year, that’s when Gioia becomes a busy young lady.

Her busy schedule starts in August when field hockey practice starts. After her field hockey season, Gioia dives right into basketball. If WSW decides to make a playoff run, there won’t be much time for Gioia before softball season gets underway.

We won’t even get into her travel softball season that takes up most of the summer months. For all this to work, Gioia needs fro be good at time management. She needs to make sure that she can dedicate the time she needs to each sport, so she can help each of those teams.

“Playing three different sports, with each one having their own complex aspects, has had its challenges along the way. While going from sport to sport, with minimal breaks to get ready for the next, helped me develop time management for sure. A big thing that has helped me was being consistent with working out on my own time outside of my practice and sports,” stated Gioia. “Not only helping me be a stronger athlete, but it also benefited my mental wellbeing as well. Something about me is I strive to keep a busy schedule, so it’s not much of a surprise adding the gym has helped me a lot. I also make sure to put work outside of practice for the sports I’m playing each season. From running extra before field hockey or hooping around with my friend Payton Keane.”

Gioia won’t lie, there are times she struggles to give the attention that is needed to field hockey, and basketball, because of how much time softball takes up. She knows, however, to be the best she can be, he needs to carve out that special time for all the sports.

When she steps on field, court, or diamond, Gioia wants to make sure her teammates can count on her. She doesn’t want to be a liability out there. This means getting out there and getting some extra running in, and building up the endurance once again.

Because she already works hard during the summer playing softball, building up her endurance usually doesn’t take that long.

“It sometimes does become difficult to give myself practice time to stay competing at a high level for field hockey and basketball outside of softball,” stated Gioia. “For field hockey I made sure to run extra and build up my endurance for the upcoming season. If that meant running to the gym as my cardio for that day or setting up cones in my backyard to practice stick handling and dribbling. That helped me prepare for our pre-season which usually involves a lot of training and conditioning to strengthen us before we start."

As for basketball, this is Gioia’s first time back on the court in a couple of years. She quit the sport all together a few years ago, but decided to get back into the game. To work the rust off, she asked her good friend Payton Keane to help her.

Keane is a very basketball player in her own right, and she was tasked in helping Gioia get back into basketball shape. Gioia also hit the basketball court on her own to get some extra shots, and work, and work on some of her moves. Pick up games were also a big help as she was ready to suit up for WSW.

“As for basketball, this is my first year ever playing for the school as I stopped playing a few years ago all together. My very good friend Payton Keane is a very talented basketball player and agreed to help me get ready for the basketball team,” stated Gioia. “Her and I would spend hours after school on the court at Esporta practice form, shooting around, and even playing 4v4 games with people. Now in season we go after practice, or before games, to get some extra shorts or form shooting in. It has certainly not been easy keeping up trying to balance practicing my in-season sports other than softball year-round. Working on time management and how hard and good you want to be as an athlete in each sport is definitely up to your determination to be a stronger athlete.”

Working out, and playing some pick up ball is one thing, trying to make a team that is extremely talented is another. At the start of the season, WSW had aspirations of making its way to a Sectional title.

That is the goal of every team when they lace up there sneakers and get after it. Gioia just wanted to be a part of that. She wanted a chance to compete with her teammates, and feel the high’s and low’s of a basketball season.

It wasn’t about how many minutes she was going to get each game, or how many points she scored. It was abut being a part of something special.

“I definitely was nervous try out and play again, especially knowing the talent on my school’s team and level they play at. Having so many strong determined athletes on my team has not only made me a better player in the game. But also taught me the importance of what it takes to be at that next level. The drive the girls have on my team is incredible and being able to learn and practice with them has made me improve to understand so much more of the game,” stated Gioia. “Not every part of being on the team is how good you are on the court, being new this year for West’s basketball team has shown me a lot of that. How you care and trust your teammates on and off the court. Such as, standing up to give your teammate a high five when coming off the court, or getting extra loud when someone makes a good play. Helping to keep your team motivated is to encourage them or support them after their mistakes.”

Now, as winter is turning into spring, so is the thoughts of softball season. Western New York spring sports is a grind. The weather usually doesn’t cooperate early in the season. Playing in 40 degree weather is usually the norm until about late April.

But, it’s still softball. Gioia can’t wait to get back on the diamond. Practicing in the gym is one thing. Getting out on the diamond, and smelling the fresh cut grass - and brisk spring air, is something completely different.

Gioia, who pitches and hits, is eagerly waiting to get back out there. During the off season, Gioia has been working on her control more. Each season is different. She knows she can’t rest on what she did last year.

Hitters will be making adjustments since they saw her on the mound, so Gioia needs to make her own adjustments.

“For each season on the mound I am always looking for improvement to be the best pitcher I am capable of being. One thing I was determined to work on going into the offseason this year was improving and controlling all of my pitches. My pitching coach Dave Sylvester has helped me greatly with that. Not only improving my spins and control of each different pitch, but teaching me about the reasons behind them,” stated Gioia. “This has not only helped me become a stronger pitcher but also helped me in the upcoming season to self-correct and problem solve in game situations. Another goal I have been working toward this off-season pitching was upping my speed. A big change I made to help that was by working out and doing pitcher focused workouts along with it. Not only to help get me faster but to also build my stamina on the mound.”

It just isn’t the adjustments on the mound that Gioia has been working on, but off it as well. The mental side of the game can be a brutal one, especially for a pitcher. If Gioia has a bad inning she needs to make sure she can wipe it away from her mind right away.

With so much talent on this West team, Gioia knows she can count on her teammates to pick her up.

“Pitchers need to have a short memory because setbacks and challenges are bound to happen, especially when playing talented athletes with very good bats . Pitchers have no room to dwell on failures or mistakes on the mound. It’s crucial for pitchers to be able to move on and stay confident in themselves,” stated Gioia. “That’s one of the hardest mental challenges I have learned to face while being on the mound. Having trust in your teammates behind you that they can back you up helps the pressure of not making a mistake a lot easier. It definitely is hard and wasn’t easy at first, especially my first year on varsity in eighth grade. I was nervous to let my team down which made it a lot harder to stay confident in myself on the mound.”

If she is ever having a bad day on the diamond, Gioia knows she can lean on coach Bonetto. Bonetto has seen is all. She was a standout Division I softball player, and has transitioned nicely into being a head coach.

Having someone who has been through the process has been a tremendous help to Gioia.

“Having a coach that played at the highest level of college softball has made me have a lot of trust in Bonetto’s coaching. Knowing she has also experienced that elite level has made me trust her , never doubting her coaching,” stated Gioia. “Coach Bonetto’s love for the game shows that she is driven to help our team be strong competitive players. She also not only has played D1 but she is still currently playing highly competitive softball. Coach Bonetto’s the most passionate coach I've ever had and cares for every single one of us on and off the field. She not only teaches the knowledge of the game on the field but also the kind of person it takes to be an elite player.”

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Jason Hussar
Jason Hussar
Feb 28

Great article about a very good athlete, teammate and friend. Keep up the hard work Ariana..

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