From Catamount captain to coach
Giancola’s decision to join UVM staff ‘probably the best decision I could’ve made’
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - In 2022, Grace Giancola was in the midst of a season to remember for UVM. America East champion, the conference tournament’s most outstanding player, and captain for the second straight year. This spring, she’s still in Burlington, just in a different role - as an assistant coach. It’s a chapter she didn’t see coming, until she heard from head coach Sarah Dalton Graddock.
“We just wanted a really good fit for our staff, someone who could work with our players on an individual level,” Dalton Graddock said. “We figure we could take care of the offense and defense. The office work, that’s something that comes with teaching everyone. As we were going through it and talking, Grace just kind of kept coming to our mind. We knew that she had started another job, she was home in Florida, and I just sent her a text.”
“Coaching was something I had always thought about but I didn’t know how to get into it. The plan for me was to go to college, get a job, make money, be in an office, typical,” Giancola said. “I didn’t really feel like I had the knowledge of how to go about getting into coaching. (Dalton Graddock) reached out to me and asked if I had ever thought about it. I was like, ‘I have but, is this in the plan? I don’t know.’”
She said the transition into coaching was a difficult choice at first. But with time, she realized it was the right one.
“After sitting on it for a little bit and really talking with the right people and making this decision for me and for what I think is best for my life going forward, once that decision was made and I finally got here, I thought, ‘I can’t believe I thought of not doing this,” Giancola said. “Super rewarding and probably the best decision I could have made.”
While she provided a number of highlights in uniform, a pair of injuries sidelined her in 2018 and 2020. It was that time away from action where she unlocked a new level of passion for the game.
“I just really love the sport in general, and I love this team and this program so much, that it just really opened my eyes,” she said. “This could be really cool, watching everyone grow and learn new things, I would love to be a part of that. I think that time away, not being on the field when I was forced to watch and learn, sort of helped me realize that for myself.”
“I remember her freshman year she was injured, but she would come to our scout meetings, and she would take copious notes,” Dalton Graddock said. “I remember in my head being like, ‘you’re not even playing and you’re taking this much notes, you’re so passionate about this.’
Careers like Giancola’s tend to leave legacies that last beyond their playing years. Luckily for her, she gets to stick around after her playing days, too, teaching the next generation of Catamounts.
“It means a lot to me to be a part of it and to have been through it, and now coming back into a coaching role when I can really influence the girls to come out of it not just better athletes, but better people, and help them break past this barrier that they may set for themselves,” she said. “You can accomplish a lot more than you think you can, and I think I learned that here as well, so I want everyone to feel a part of that.”
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