Nicole Berbiglia first started kicking a soccer ball around when she was 5 years old, and what started out as a fun activity to play with friends has turned into a more than 11-year commitment to the sport.
“From there, it was every year I [had] to sign up again,” says Berbiglia of her early years as a soccer player. Playing in local AYSO leagues led to joining club teams and eventually the team at Cornelia Connelly High School.
The camaraderie with her teammates is behind Berbiglia’s love for the game.
“I keep coming back to the sport because I love the feeling of the team,” says Berbiglia. “You become so close to them, it’s your second family, going out there and having fun on the field with a bunch of your really close friends.”
The junior midfielder and three-year varsity player served as co-captain for the Koalas this past season, joining two of her teammates in leading a young but promising squad.
“Being a co-captain for Connelly is great,” says Berbiglia. “It’s really awesome…helping to give a lot of the younger players coming in the support they need to hopefully fill our shoes one day.”
Connelly head soccer coach Stephanie Righetti says that Berbiglia’s hard work and leadership have made an impact on both the field and the program.
“Nicole is a strong player, a great leader and is very tenacious,” says Righetti. “She is one of our go-to players, and often comes up clutch for us when the odds are against us. Her teammates look up to her, as she’s always creating opportunities to make herself and her teammates successful.”
Berbiglia admits her biggest struggle with the sport has been connecting what she does in practice to her game performance, but it’s something she feels she’s improved with her time on the high school team. Representing Connelly as a student-athlete has allowed the 17-year-old a place outside of her club team commitments to keep it simple and focus on playing to her abilities.
“Go out there, do your best and represent your team as well as you can,” says Berbiglia of her role with the Koalas.
Off the soccer field, the Huntington Beach resident has found another true love in horseback riding, as she spends her spare time riding, training and caring for horses. This plays well into Berbiglia’s future plans, as she looks to study veterinary medicine in college.
While she may not continue playing soccer after high school, Berbiglia takes several life lessons away from the game and credits her parents for their sacrifices and commitment that have allowed her to play.
“They are the ones who made sure I got to do what I really wanted,” says Berbiglia of her parents. “And I’m really thankful to them for that.”