Westmoreland County Junior Spotlight: Jeannette’s Venicia Vignoli

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Monday, January 23, 2023 | 11:55 AM


Venicia Vignoli won’t forget the first win of her high school basketball career any time soon.

Why?

Because it snapped Jeannette’s 51-game losing streak, a streak that had stretched back to 2020 when she was a freshman.

The junior guard has become a go-to scorer for the Jayhawks.

A first-year starter, she scored 19 points in a 61-18 win over Hillel Academy on Jan. 4. What a way to open the new year.

Vignoli was leading the team with a 10-point average.

“She worked her entire offseason, and it shows,” Jeannette coach Anna Leonard said. “Last year, she averaged less than a point a game. That progress speaks for itself. She is a great example of what can be accomplished if you want to get better.

“She has great teammates this year that she can lean on, and I know that has played into her personal success a lot so far this year.”

What was it like to get the first win of the season and snap the streak?

It felt good to start the section games with a win, and it shows we are capable of doing great things this season. Hopefully, we can take the win and use it as motivation to push ourselves to work harder and win more games in the future. Now that we got a dub, there’s no going back. Only up from here. It will be one of many firsts for the team this year.

Is Jeannette improving as a program?

Yes, from what I’ve heard our program has greatly improved since last year. The team has told me the positivity and work ethic is a lot better than it has been in the past couple years. The fundraising for the girls team has been the best this year than it has in a while. We have been raising lots of money so we can have new equipment and gear for the team and seniors.

You have a unique first name. Where does it come from?

My name originates in Italy and it means destiny and heart’s desire. I believe that my name can describe me and show that I work towards things I love to do and strive to get what I really want in life.

Why do you wear No. 15?

My original number was 5, the number my grandpa used to wear, so it was my lucky number. I wore 5 all the way up until high school. My freshman year, the number wasn’t available, so I got the next closest thing and that was 15. It has just stuck to me ever since.

Do you play AAU?

I don’t play on an AAU team. Strictly high school ball and I do training over the summer to get me ready for the season.

Are you originally from Jeannette?

No, I am originally from Bessemer, but I attended Jeannette elementary school, kindergarten through third grade. I was so excited to come back junior year. Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk.

Any good athletes in your family?

Yes, my little sister, Adriana, is one of the best players I know. She faced adversity head on and she led the middle school team playing with five girls. She helped the Jeannette “Fab Five” win games this past season against teams like Southmoreland, South Allegheny, Yough and East Allegheny.

Who is your favorite all-time player at Jeannette?

Sharp-shooter Ciara Gregory.

Who is your favorite pro athlete?

Aw man, pick one? Kevin Durant is my favorite current forward in the NBA. Tim Duncan is my favorite center ever, the Big Fundamental. Sue Bird is my favorite WNBA guard. Drew Timme is my favorite college forward. He has some sick footwork.

Have you been following the Damar Hamlin story?

Yeah, that’s a very serious situation, and I am happy that he’s getting better. I’m just praying for him and his family.

What sport are you secretly good at?

Volleyball. I am good at receiving and saving the ball. I love playing in my free time with my friends and little sister.

Do you have any hidden talents?

It’s an odd one but I can fold my tongue in half, burger style. Only 3% of the world can do it. I’ve never met someone else that could do it.

What is your favorite thing about new coach Anna Leonard?

She pushes us. She might look strict, but she is pushing us in ways we haven’t been pushed before. She is helping us get to our full potential and getting us mentally strong. She is one of the best coaches I’ve had. She cares for all her players and always has their best interest at heart. She is fully invested in us and our futures.

What is your favorite school lunch?

Pizza Day. Pizza is definitely my favorite day.

What is your favorite subject in school?

Math. I like crunching the numbers. It’s calming sometimes.

Have you ever met a celebrity?

Swin Cash. She was a WNBA player. I met her at a basketball tournament.

What/who is your favorite Twitter follow?

Kansas women’s basketball. I follow them on everything. They are one of my favorite college basketball team, and I aspire to go there and play ball for them in the future.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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