Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 42
 
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
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(Photo Courtesy of Fairfield University Sports Information)

FAIR PLAY: Gina Fiori is all smiles in her freshman photo for the Fairfield University women’s soccer team. The former Hun School standout walked on to the Stags this fall, achieving her dream of playing Division I soccer.

Former Hun Standout Fiori Seizes Opportunity; Making Fairfield Women’s Soccer as Walk-On

Nicole Campellone

In his famous pre-game speech to the U.S. men’s hockey team before its clash with the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics, head coach Herb Brooks reminded his players that great moments are born from great opportunities.

This summer, former Hun School standout Gina Fiori listened to Brook’s speech as she pursued a great opportunity of her athletic career, trying to make the Fairfield University women’s soccer team as a walk-on.

While Fiori was a four-year starter at outside defense for Hun, her dream of playing in college seemed to be unrealistic as she didn’t draw much interest on the recruiting trail.

Attracted by Fairfield’s accounting program and encouragement from soccer head coach Jim O’Brien who said that he was saving a spot on his roster for a walk-on, Fiori decided to take her talents to the Stags.

In preparing for her shot at Division 1 soccer, Fiori left no stone unturned over the offseason.

“I trained with the SOURCE institute every day all spring and summer,” recalled Fiori. “When I wasn’t training with them, I was doing what they told me to on my own. They really helped me become stronger, faster, and more prepared. I was focused, and with their help, I was in the best shape of my life.”

Once in camp, Fiori showed a resolve that would make Brooks proud. “I kept my head up if I made a mistake, and worked ten times harder to do better,” said Fiori.

Just a few weeks before Fairfield’s opener against Bryant on August 22, Fiori got the great moment she had striven for, learning that she had made the team.

“It will forever be one of my top five best moments of my life,” asserted Fiori. “I couldn’t stop smiling. I was elated because I knew I wanted to be a Division I athlete my entire life, and I could finally say I made my dream reality.”

Fiori developed D-I skills during her superb Hun career. “I started at right defense every game for four years,” said Fiori. “I made progress each season to finally perfect my free kicks and attacking runs by the time I was a senior.”

With the Raiders making progress collectively, Fiori’s senior season proved to be one of the best in program history as the Hun went 10-4-1, winning its first ever Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title and advancing to the state Prep A championship game.

“There was no drama, and we were all willing to work hard for one another,” said Fiori, pointing to wins over Lawrenceville and Peddie, the run to Prep finals, and the MAPL crown as highlights of the fall.

“Every team over the four years was so different. We learned from mistakes made by older girls both on and off the field to ensure success our senior year.”

These days, Fiori has a steep learning curve as she looks to contribute to the Stags. After surviving the three-a-day sessions in the preseason, Fiori is working hard to adjust to playing with what she says are strongest, fastest, and most fit players that she has ever been around.

Noting that her teammates welcomed her warmly to the squad and the school, Fiori said the team is on the same page in its approach to the game.

“We are putting forth the work and proving ourselves,” said Fiori, who has appeared in one game so far this season for the 7-6-2 Stags. “That’s what we’re going to do this season, prove to people we deserve to be recognized.”

No matter what happens over the rest of the season, Fiori has proven something to herself.

“When you love something that much, you want to play for as long as possible,” said Fiori. “Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to play soccer at the collegiate level.”

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