Nov. 22, 2010
Judging by her vast array of talents, senior libero Jenna Romanelli can do plenty of things as a volleyball player. Her ability to get underneath balls, put her setters in good position and fly around back and forth is a testament to her conditioning and training over the years.
Coincidently, her penchant for staying in tip-top shape is almost certain to guide her future endeavor. Romanelli, who comes from Lighthouse Point, Fla., is a double major in both exercise science and dietetics. She already has a plan in the foreseeable future, and based on the experiences she gains, she will decide her exact area to pursue.
“Ideally, I want to get a graduate assistant spot for a school, whether it’s D-3, D-2 or D1, hopefully up north,” Romanelli said. “I want to get my Master’s in exercise science and become a strength coach for whatever sports team they need me to do. I don’t graduate until next December. I’m not too sure after that – I have two majors, so I have a lot of options. To be a registered dietician, I have to get my Master’s and do an internship in that also.”
The prospect of temporarily moving to a colder climate from the sunny skies in South Florida doesn’t appeal to many Floridians. However, Romanelli has the goal of moving to a popular New England city known for its plethora of colleges.
“I’m from South Florida. Eventually I want to move back down there in the sun, but for a couple years I’d like to go up North,” she added. “Boston is my favorite place to travel, I’d really like to live in that area. We’ve been there for volleyball four times, and I’ve been there just to visit friends and I love it. I don’t know how well I’d handle the cold.”
Romanelli began to discover her niche in life after taking different courses that tied into her majors. Finding ways to absorb all the interesting information taught by her professors, her exact aspiration in the strength training and dietetics field is unknown because of her tremendous interest and willingness to learn in all the different areas.
“One minute I’ll say I want to open a gym, another minute I’ll be real interested in dietetics and maybe work in a hospital and be a dietician in a hospital for people who have illnesses and diseases,” Romanelli added. “I’m pretty indecisive right now.”
Thankfully, one choice that she made without much hesitation was coming to Florida State University. Her family consists of several Alumni who got their education in Tallahassee, and although she flirted with the possibility of attending a Division II school at the time, in her heart she knew that her affinity for the university and its sports programs was too much to pass up.
“I really never wanted to go anywhere else. I had been coming here for football games since I was four years old. I have pictures in Tully Gym in 1996 watching games,” she said. “I knew I always wanted to come here, I knew I wanted to play volleyball here too. When it was coming to the end of my junior and senior year (in high school) I didn’t know whether I’d choose volleyball (at a D2 school) or Florida State.
“I had a few offers from D2 schools. I went on one other visit, and I left there and thought it was great – they’d give me what I needed and I’d play. But my sisters called me and were up here for a football game, and I said, `I can’t do it. I was born a Florida State Seminole.’ I sent tapes to every school in the ACC, but didn’t get anything back. I really wanted to come here, it was my ultimate dream.”
After being projected as more of a practice player by head coach Chris Poole’s predecessor, Romanelli combined her physical toughness with a mental edge that created constant improvement on the court. Beginning in her sophomore year, she has earned a tremendous amount of time on the court, and even played in 21 matches as a freshman. As a result, she has now totaled 1,109 digs for sixth place on FSU’s career list.
“I remember our other coach saying that I could be here to push these players,” Romanelli said about one of her high school visits. “He told me I wasn’t going to travel. It took them a year and a half to even come watch my game. Coming into it I can say I never would have thought that I would have achieved some of things I’ve done individually as well as a team. I’ve gotten way more than I ever bargained for.”
Both the university and the FSU volleyball program can say the same. With Romanelli, the program has gained a hard-working player who shows that persistence truly does pay off. With four regular-season matches left in her final year, and with the postseason looming, the team captain knows that she must cherish each of her remaining days on the team before her bright future begins.
“I’m going to miss the girls. I have friends now from multiple countries, including Stephanie (Neville), and she graduates in May,” Romanelli said. “It’s going to be a life-altering experience because you meet these girls and they’re not your average friends. You spend every second of every day with these people. You go through ups and downs, especially this year. You see everyone’s true colors. I’m really going to miss my teammates.”
In order for the Seminoles to march on to the postseason, they will need to continue utilizing their talents in a collective manner. But if each individual can adapt the same mindset and persona that Romanelli has exuded over her last four years, then FSU could be in for the long haul should it make the Field of 64.