Thursday, September 24, 2020

Sports Person of the Week

Riccio Appreciates Her Special Senior Season

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Lily Riccio earned All-SCC First Team accolades as a senior striker for the Guilford girls’ soccer team, while helping the club claim conference and state championships. Photo courtesy of Lily Riccio

Lily Riccio earned All-SCC First Team accolades as a senior striker for the Guilford girls’ soccer team, while helping the club claim conference and state championships. (Photo courtesy of Lily Riccio )

Lily Riccio capped off her soccer career in Guilford by helping her team win SCC and Class L state titles last fall. However, when it comes to what she remembers about her time at the high school, Lily doesn’t necessarily think about the victories and championships. Instead, the most important thing for Lily is that she got to achieve these things alongside a group of seniors who she had been competing with since her freshman season.

When Lily started at Guilford High School, she played for the freshman and JV girls’ soccer teams. In her final year, all of the seniors were together again on the varsity squad.

“As seniors, to have every person from our grade together on varsity was really cool, like we reunited the freshman team again,” Lily says. “I loved my freshman year and would never change anything about it. My grade is so close, and we love spending time together, and that’s what made this year so incredible. It was a really great group of girls, and I wouldn’t have wanted to win a championship with anyone else. We kept the enthusiasm we had from freshman year through senior year.”

While Lily was happy to be reunited with her fellow seniors, she and her classmates wanted to make sure that they welcomed everyone on the team. The seniors organized a preseason meeting to discuss that goal.

“We made it a priority to create a welcoming, kind environment for everyone,” says Lily. “We wanted each and every player to feel like they were contributing to team.”

Lily played the striker position for Guilford, scoring the game-winning goal when the team earned a 2-1 win versus East Lyme in the 2019 Class L state final. Lily was named the Most Valuable Player of that game, but she gives all the credit to senior captain Gabi Garcia-Perez for netting the tying goal that gave Guilford a huge boost after East Lyme had struck first.

“It was an incredible goal, and it’s what gave us the momentum to win the game,” Lily says. “Her goal was huge and set our team back on track.”

Rick Geremia was a member of Guilford’s coaching staff throughout Lily’s high school career, serving as co-interim head coach during last year’s State Tournament run. Geremia notes that Lily won Guilford’s Golden Boot Award for being a top scorer in her freshman year. Lily continued to find the back of the net with regularity for the next three seasons and was Guilford’s leading scorer as a senior. Lily secured a spot on the All-SCC First Team by virtue of her performance.

“Lily excelled in the classroom and on the soccer field,” says Geremia. “Lily was a dangerous forward, because she possesses excellent dribble moves, which can set up shot in any direction to either foot. She’s a very coachable player who will do great things at the next level.”

Lily has always enjoyed the team aspect of sports. Lily started playing soccer and basketball when she was just four years old, taking after her older brother Ellis and her twin brother Mitchell.

“They were my two biggest competitors, and I wanted to get out on soccer field and prove I was just as good as them,” Lily says. “As I got older, it was less about them, and I learned I loved competing in general. I remember seeing the women’s World Cup, and that totally established that I wanted to do this as much as I could.”

Lily played rec soccer in Guilford before moving on to the club level with South Central District and Farmington Soccer Academy. Lily also played for Shoreline Football Club during the offseason, something she missed doing this spring as a result of COVID-19.

Lily recently participated in a socially distanced graduation ceremony at the Guilford Fairgrounds that was streamed to a large screen. Lily and her fellow graduates were able to receive their diplomas one at a time while wearing masks.

“They did the best they could, but it was crazy and not how I thought it would be,” says Lily. “I feel so bad for spring athletes. I have a lot of friends who missed the opportunity to close the chapter on their athletic career at the high school.”

Lily is going to attend the University of Southern California’s (USC) School of Cinematic Arts this fall, but recently received news that she will be taking classes from home as a freshman due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although that’s disappointing, Lily is making the best of it.

“Even though it’s not going as planned, it could be worse, and you have to be grateful for what you have,” Lily says. “There are people who are getting sick or losing loved ones.”

Lily has been exploring career options for several years. When she was a sophomore, she began researching the film and production world and found that there were very few female directors.

“I didn’t come across a lot of female directors to talk to about their experiences, and it made me sad, and I wondered if other females had that problem, especially in more male-dominated fields,” Lily says.

Instead of becoming disheartened, Lily created powerofgirl.com, a website whose mission is to inspire young girls to dream big by introducing them to strong and relatable female role models; connect female leaders by including various women with similar professions and fields; provide advice from women of different backgrounds, careers, cultures, and experiences; and showcase unique stories of personal accounts filled with valuable wisdom from established females.

Lily’s website features dozens of women in different careers ranging from entrepreneurs, businesswomen, and creators to scientists, engineers, and athletes. Lily also teamed up with Garcia-Perez to create the website for Garcia-Perez’s Community Integration Mentoring Program (cimpnewhaven.weebly.com/).

“I created powerofgirl to instill confidence and reassure you that your dream is valid and attainable,” she says.

While Lily feels sad to be leaving her teammates at Guilford, she still hopes to play soccer in the future. When she is able to head to the USC campus, she plans on joining an intramural or club soccer team at the school.

Lily’s parents Karen and Ray have always supported her, both on and off the field throughout her career. Lily’s father coached her in basketball and often had postgame soccer talks with her. He not only taught Lily about soccer, but also about what it means to be a part of a team.

“My mom comes to all my games and has driven me probably thousands of miles to practices, games, and tournaments,” Lily says. “Even though he can be annoying at the games, my dad pushed me to be the best I can be, and I look forward to talking to him after games to see what he thinks. He was even more excited that we won the championship than I was. He’s been a big motivation and a special part of my athletic career. My dad always told me you see people’s true character on the field. The girls I played with are not only great players, but great people who I’m lucky to have in my life.”

 


Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .

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