Q&A: Persico Talks About 19th Season


Joanne Persico is entering her 19th season as the head coach of the St. John’s women’s volleyball team. Although she has established St. John’s as a nationally recognized program during her 19 years at the helm, including three straight Big East championships from 2006-2008, Persico will face the challenge in the 2012 season of trying to bounce back from three straight losing seasons. The team is currently 3-1 this season after winning the Battle of the Bay in Baltimore, Md.

Torch: What do you hope to achieve this season?

Joanne Persico: Our first goal is to continue to produce quality student athletes looking forward to their career at St. John’s and a quality education on and off the court. To have athletes that are healthy and being enriched spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Second [goal] is to always have a winning season and create a winning culture; produce winning, confident, independent, (and) successful people.

T: Looking at the prospects from this past recruiting year, what are some of the main holes you were focused on filling? Do you think you met those needs with the current recruiting class?

JP: We wanted to have a strong freshman class that would carry us into the next couple of years. We wanted to have a solid and steady freshman class, athleticism, and good Volleyball IQ; which we did.

T: How difficult was it for you to replace Darlene Ramdin?

JP: We don’t replace a player like Darlene, but what you try and do is to improve defense and serving. Darlene was a great front row player and now we work to achieve good team synergy and not have a one person or two-person team.

T: Do you think the increased amount of home games will be an advantage for the team this season?

JP: Last year we ran into some injuries and challenges in regards to our scheduling. I am hoping that this year we’ll have more practices, get comfortable at home, and have an edge with the home crowd.

T: Team captain Gabriela Petkova will be returning for her final season at St. John’s, how do you think her leadership will set an example for returning players and the freshman recruiting class?

JP: She’s not necessarily team captain, just a team leader along with the other upperclassman. We asked everyone to lead, get into the boat and paddle. We all need to lead and be accountable and that will allow us to be more successful. We look for Gabby to help in any capacity.

T: You have an even amount of newcomers and veterans; how will you use this to your advantage?

JP: The Freshman from last year have gained experience, so we look for them in the core. We look forward to them helping us out on the court. The freshman and sophomores will have years to play together and that’s a plus.

T: How has the new recruiting class of freshman adjusted to the collegiate level of Volleyball?

JP: The collegiate level of volleyball is a faster, more powerful game. The recruits that played in high-level club have good experience. The ones who didn’t play in club have good athleticism so hopefully that will all work out.

T: You have a range of personalities on the team. Do you think this mix is beneficial?

JP: We represent St. John’s and St. John’s represents New York City. Our team reflects that and it’s my job to mold them and bring them together in a positive and synergic way. We are looking forward to that and the personalities keep it exciting and fun.

T: What is the one aspect of last year you would change?

JP: Of course the winning and loss record, the tight games. Good news is that last year is behind us. We want this year to be good. We have a new attitude and are not thinking about last year. We are focused on this year.

T: The team has a difficult series of away games beginning with the game against DePaul, how do you plan on preparing for this?

JP: We have to stay healthy before that match and make sure we are rested and playing some of our best volleyball before that match happens.

T: What does going into your 19th season as the head volleyball Coach mean to you?

JP: It means that I was able to find what I want to do in life and was able to have a great opportunity to pursue my passion.