St. C. volleyball duo headed to Italy
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Sights, culture and volleyball.
Those are just a few of the perks that lie ahead for St. Clairsville juniors Sydney Porter and Paige Sefsick when they both make their first trip abroad to take part in Goodwill Ambassador Volleyball Tour in Italy from June 20 until July 2.
The players — along with their moms — will be part of a team from the United States that plays matches throughout Italy in cities such as Rome, Ladispoli, Marina de Grosseto, Pisa, Florence and Venice.
“I expect this trip to be very unique,” Sefsick said. “I am looking forward to 11 days of playing volleyball with cultural enrichment, educational advancement and sightseeing. It’s also an opportunity to make life-long friends.”
Porter, meanwhile, calls traveling to Italy a “bucket-list” item that she’s able to cross off relatively early in life.
“I’ve always been interested in traveling all over the globe,” Porter said. “Italy has always been my first choice because it’s one of my own roots and I never get sick of eating home-made pasta. Being able to play the sport I love makes this (trip) so much more surreal.”
Both players were chosen this spring after meeting a lengthy eligibility list. Playing for their travel team, Club Gold South Volleyball, the pair received an email informing them of their opportunity.
“Once we learned of our eligibility to play, we had to have recommendations from our school coaches, too,” Porter said. “We have to display flexibility with other players, postions and certain teamwork characteristics. After the screening, eight to nine players are chosen.”
Porter and Sefsick both agreed that “excited” was the word when they received official confirmation of their selection.
“I never thought I would get the opportunity to travel throughout Italy and play on an international volleyball team,” Sefsick said. “This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
While forming new friendships and seeing things like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Roman Forum, Roman Colosseum, Tuscany, Venice and going to a mass in Vatican City were on both players’ lists of things they’re looking forward to, also there was improving their volleyball skills.
“I hope I’m able to bring back some different tips that may benefit our Red Devil team,” Porter said.
Porter has been out of the country on a vacation to Jamaica, but this will be the first time for Sefsick, who has never flown further than the Pacific time zone.
“My family enjoys taking trips every summer,” Sefsick said. “I have flown as far as Las Vegas, Colorado and Wyoming, but nothing like this. Getting to combine playing my favorite sport with sightseeing and learning the history of Italy is exciting. I am just eager to get there and engage in the culture.”
An added bonus to the trip is the ability to make it with a teammate, which both Porter and Sefsick are looking forward to sharing their experiences with each other.
“Paige and I have been friends since the sixth grade when I transferred from St. Mary’s to St. Clairsville Middle School,” Porter said. “We’ve played volleyball together for almost five years and eight seasons of school and club. We actually went on vacation together once before two years ago to Myrtle Beach. Paige is my best friend, a great teammate and I could not be more thrilled to share this with her.”
Sefsick realizes that the number of memories that will stem from this trip will lead to conversations for years to come.
“I think this is going to be so much fun,” Sefsick relayed. “To have the opportunity to play internationally with one of my closest friends is something we’ll be able to talk about for years to come.”
Porter and Sefsick actually become the second and third members of the Red Devils squad to have the opportunity to play overseas this summer. Macie Hothem is going to play in Australia in July.
“Coach (Christa) Truchan encourages all of us to play during the offseason and always informs us of great opportunities like these,” Porter said. “We have a very hard-working and strong team. We’re always doing something to improve. We’re always getting better and trying new things.”
Truchan is expected to be able to watch Porter and Sefsick take part in this event, which also includes a beach volleyball match along the Mediterranean Sea. She’s headed to Europe on vacation and plans to make it a point to watch her players in action.
Neither player has done any fundraising for the trip, but both expressed their deepest appreciation to their families for allowing them to enjoy this experience.
Porter already has the early portion of the trip planned out.
“I can’t wait to be riding a moped, eating gelato in Rome and getting that first (victory) overseas,” Porter said.
Sydney is the daughter of J.R. and Tiffany Porter of Belmont. Paige is the daughter of Doug and Robin Sefsick of Adena.