steps onto the volleyball she stands out.
It's not because the Windham (Ohio)
junior is the most powerful hitter going up for a kill. It's not because she's the best setter on the court. It's because she's 5-foot-3.
She's certainly not an intimidating player. But what she lacks in height she certainly makes up for with hard work and perseverance.
"She's definitely not tall, but she's feisty and she's hungry to win," Windham volleyball coach Lauryn Seger said. "And that sometimes can be ever better than being tall. She really pushes herself hard and spends a lot of time in the summertime, does a lot of weightlifting. She did a lot of work on her vertical."
Berardinelli, who also starts on the Bombers' basketball and softball teams, doesn't let her height hamper her one bit. She's always been an underdog who thrives in being overlooked while competing in sports.
"I know this is a little cocky, but I always think of myself as the best player on the court," Berardinelli said. "I just know I have to do everything in my power to help the team get more points and to keep them hyped up and keep them ready to go."
The 17-year-old is in her second season starting. As a sophomore, Berardinelli played outside hitter, but her coach moved her to middle hitter this year. At 5-3, she doesn't have the length of a typical front row player.
"I do a lot of work on my own," Berardinelli said. "I go into the weight room and I work on my vertical a lot. It's getting there; it's a work in progress. I hope to get many more blocks next year as a senior."Learn more about the MaxPreps US Marines program at www.maxpreps.com/marines
Berardinelli has become a key piece to the Windham offense. In the first 28 games of the season (as of Sept. 20) she registered 52 kills — 1.9 per set. Last year, Berardinelli had just 16 kills in 75 sets played.
Seger calls Berardinelli a smart player at the net. She knows how to work her way around the opponent's block and get points the hard way.
"Instead of getting frustrated, she really thinks hard about ball placement and she can pop it to the corners, tip it to the sides and work around that disadvantage," Seger said.
Seger first coached Berardinelli in eighth grade and has witnessed a young, inexperienced volleyball player who has steadily improved over the years.
"I think I've really grown as a player since last year even to the beginning of summer when I played in summer league," Berardinelli said. "I got to see progress in myself."
Now that she's an upperclassman, Berardinelli has also become a strong leader and a girl who the younger players look up to during matches.
"I feel like she's a total leader on the team and I use her as an example often," Seger said. "If everybody on that team put in as much effort as she does, we would be unstoppable."
Said Berardinelli: "Even if I'm not doing great, I want my team to do well. So even if I'm not in, I still try and cheer them on and I try my hardest to keep it all together."
Berardinelli stays busy year-round athletically. She'll be entering her third year starting in both basketball and softball. Berardinelli is a defensive stopper on the basketball court and a jack-of-all trades on the diamond.
Softball is her favorite sport, playing both catcher and second base last year. She's always has a passion for the game. The first time Berardinelli ever threw a ball, she broke the growth plate in her finger.
"I don't know what happened, but it made me love it," said Berardinelli, who had a .270 batting average last season.
Even though she is extremely busy competing in sports, Berardinelli makes sure academics are her top priority. She believes being a three-sport athlete helps her in the classroom.
"I feel like it keeps me busy and it keeps me focused," Berardinelli said. "I feel like if I'm focused, I do better on my grades, too, because it's keeping me in check."
Because time is so precious, Berardinelli makes sure she seizes every moment of every day.
"It really helps that I am a junior and I'm on track with my tests — I get out at 1:19 (p.m.)," Berardinelli said. "So, until 2:45 when I have practices, I have that free time and it really helps me catch up and I can really focus and study everything."
Berardinelli holds a 3.75 grade point average and was recently accepted into National Honor Society. Through school, she also volunteers her time for such activities as gardening, cleaning up trash and painting around the baseball diamonds.
"Honestly, I just wonder how she ever has any free time," Seger joked. "She always stays so busy. If I do concession stands for boys (games) and I ask her, she'd be there if she could. She'd help out with anything."
Berardinelli is also very active in her church, getting out and donating her time on a regular basis. She'll help set up and serve breakfasts and dinners on Saturdays for community members and those who are in need.
"It makes me feel good about myself to know that I give back to the town that made me me," Berardinelli said.
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