WPIAL Alum Q&A – Catherine Ferragonio
Monday, September 26, 2016 | 11:55 PM
While Norwin’s girls basketball team has garnered headlines recently for winning back-to-back WPIAL championships, the Knights’ girls volleyball program has been very accomplished in recent seasons, as well. Just a few years ago, Norwin’s Catherine Ferragonio established herself as one of the top players in the district, and helped guide the Knights to a section crown and playoff success. Now, Ferragonio is showing her abilities at Clarion University. She’s profiled in this week’s installment of the WPIAL Alum Q&A.
Ferragonio was a three-year letterwinner playing under her mother, Mary Ellen Ferragonio, at Norwin. She earned All-Section honors in each of those years, and as a senior, she also garnered All-WPIAL and All-State accolades. Her strong performance earned her the distinction as Norwin’s Outstanding Female Athlete.
In her senior campaign of 2013, Ferragonio guided the Knights to a section crown with an 11-1 mark. Norwin won a pair of playoff bouts, 3-0 against Oakland Catholic, and 3-2 against Seneca Valley, before being eliminated by North Allegheny in the semifinals. The Knights won a consolation game to qualify for the PIAA postseason, though, and also claimed a first-round victory in that tournament.
When she elected to continue her athletic and academic careers at Clarion University, Ferragonio became a key component of the team as a freshman. She played in 34 of the 35 matches for the Golden Eagles, notching 102 kills, 378 digs and 20 aces. Clarion posted a sterling record of 30-5, as the team reached the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region.
The Golden Eagles regressed a bit in 2015, compiling a mark of 22-17 and falling in the second round of the Atlantic Region. In that campaign, Ferragonio competed in 38 matches, contributing 313 digs.
This season, Clarion is off to a 7-6 start, but recently has won its first two conference matches in straight sets. Playing libero, Ferragonio leads the squad with 170 digs thus far.
Catherine set aside time from her schedule to respond to an array of questions, including what position she prefers at Clarion, the benefits of having her mother as a head coach, and which person she would most like to meet.
Q: The team’s roster lists you as an outside hitter and defensive specialist, but you also have played some libero. Do you have a preference for where you play, and do you think you excel at any spot in particular?
A: I’ve been moved around all over the court throughout my volleyball career. I’ve always been focused on working on all my ball skills so I could be versatile enough to play whatever position my team needs me in. I do love to swing in the front row, but defense is the most fun part of the game for me, so I really like where I am right now.
Q: You have shown an ability to accumulate digs. How have you been so successful at that skill?
A: Just a lot of practice and a lot of years of watching and playing volleyball. Eyework is so important in defending the ball and I think growing up around the sport and spending so much time just watching has impacted the speed I see the game in, and allows me to react quickly and make strong defensive moves.
Q: What has been your biggest area of growth as a player in your time at Clarion?
A: I think I’ve grown as a player in all aspects. My confidence in my abilities has improved over the last seasons, and I have learned a lot from my coaches.
Q: Your team had a winning record the past two years. What are the goals for this year’s team?
A: Our goals always include getting into the regional tournament play at the end of the year and winning our conference.
Q: What are some of your training methods, both general and specific to volleyball?
A: During season, we have lifting sessions with our strength and conditioning coach here at Clarion. I’ve always enjoyed exercising and lifting, and both are pretty important to help improve your strength and abilities out on the court. During the summer, we have a lifting and conditioning program to help prepare for the fall season.
Q: What match or particular moment stands out to you thus far at Clarion?
A: My freshman year, we played Cal U away and got absolutely crushed the first two sets, then rallied back to win the next three in really tight scores. It was such an exciting moment to be a part of, and our resilience really showed. It was awesome.
Q: What led to your decision to attend the university?
A: My older sister played at Clarion, so I knew the way the program ran and the coaching style. I love the campus, and wanted to attend a school where my academics were just as important as my performance on the court, and I knew Clarion could be that place for me.
Q: Your team at Norwin won a section championship and enjoyed postseason success, too. What was your best memory with the Knights?
A: My favorite memory with the Knights will always be the quarterfinal game against Seneca Valley my senior year. We were down two sets and came back to win the match in five. It was the most exciting game to be a part of.
Q: Your mother was the coach for the team at Norwin. What was that experience like?
A: I always loved having my mom as my head coach in high school. It gave me an opportunity to share my love of volleyball with such an important person in my life, and she coached me just as she coached every other player. She played when she was at Norwin, as well, under Coach Sheron Watson, so I learned so many valuable skills and aspects of the game from her. I knew she’d give me the feedback I needed, and I loved being able to play for her.
Q: Do you still follow the girls volleyball or any athletic programs at Norwin?
A: Absolutely- I check in with my mom to see how the girls are doing and made a trip home last year to catch a playoff game, as well!
Q: When did you know you wanted to play college volleyball?
A: I don’t know that there was one moment where I decided I wanted to play in college. I grew up around volleyball 24/7, and once I began playing, I never even considered there would be a time when I would just give it up. I always dreamed of playing in college, so I’m very thankful I was given the opportunity to here at Clarion.
Q: What is your major and ideal future profession?
A: My major is Rehabilitative Sciences with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy. I hope to finish up my undergrad at Clarion and then attend grad school to become a licensed physical therapist.
Q: What is the hardest part of being a student athlete in college?
A: I would say time management and stress would be the hardest parts. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re taking 18 credits and have to balance all the schoolwork with a sport, and all the practices, meetings, lifts, traveling, etc. that it includes. I try to schedule my time to keep on top of things and not get too behind.
Q: What is your favorite movie or TV show?
A: I love Friends and The Office.
Q: If you could meet any person in the world, who would you choose?
A: John Mayer, for sure. I have the biggest obsession with his music and listen to it all day everyday. I could sit and listen to him play the guitar and sing for hours and hours :).
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