When Adrianna Calabria started playing soccer on SDA coach Mike Paolini’s team, he noticed a striking resemblance to one of his former players, Alex Catanzarite.
Adrianna, age 10, is petite, with a wide smile and wavy light brown hair — just like Alex. She moves similar to the way Alex moves on the field. Neither ever skips practice. They’re both smaller in comparison to teammates, forcing them to work twice as hard.
“I see a fire in Adrianna whenever she plays, and it reminds me of Alex growing up in our program,” Paolini says. Sometimes at practice, he accidentally calls Adrianna “Alex.”
“We had no idea who Alex was, but we were super intrigued,” says Adrianna’s mother, Patty Calabria. “He showed us a picture of her in a magazine article so we could put a face with a name. Since then, Adrianna has been wanting to meet Alex.
Adrianna got her chance in May. Paolini’s younger girls team was training at the SDA Center just before his older girls team arrived to train. They took a picture in their matching training shirts. Then, Adrianna came to Cortland to watch Alex play in State Cup and took another picture together with the team trophy afterward.
“Adrianna looks up to Alex. She sees her drive and love for soccer,” says Calabria. Her daughter does karate and four kinds of dance, but Adrianna’s ultimate passion is soccer, “and she hopes to follow in Alex’s footsteps.”
Catanzarite, a graduate of Jamesville DeWitt High School, recently finished her freshman year at Bucknell University, where she was known as one of the Patriot League’s top newcomers. She played in all 21 games and started in the final 19.
She enjoys Adrianna’s friendship, and she says knowing that she is someone’s role model “makes me want to play harder and be a better person both on and off the field.”