MCKEESPORT, Pa. — When Penn State Greater Allegheny alumna and head Women’s Volleyball Coach Alyssa Finocchi was contacted by Beyond Sports about a summer coaching opportunity, little did she know that not only would she be selected to coach a United States collegiate women’s volleyball team in Italy, but that her team would include two players from Greater Allegheny.
Established in 2010, Beyond Sports organizes international sports tours, giving student athletes the opportunity to engage in cross cultural experiences through sports. Experiences include a ten-day trip abroad coaching and playing a sport coaches and student athletes love, meeting new people, trying new food and traditions, and sightseeing.
After receiving the call, Finocchi immediately jumped at the opportunity to apply. Alexa Martell and Nicole Caballero, decorated student athletes who played pivotal roles in the 2021 PSUAC Championship run, also applied.
Coaches and players were selected via a competitive application process in the spring. Beyond Sports selects conference statistical leaders, all-conference honorees, and accepts coach recommendations when choosing who will attend their international trips.
"After a stellar and record-breaking playing career when she was a student at Greater Allegheny, Coach Finocchi continues to elevate our Women's Volleyball program through her leadership and player development opportunities,” said Jason Broadwater, interim athletic director. “This experience speaks directly to the global citizenry and cultural experiences we want each of our student athletes to have."
Finocchi’s team competed against local school and club teams that were selected to match the competition level of student-athletes traveling from the United States. In addition to their practice and game schedule, they toured in Rome, Venice and Verona, and participated in a cooking class.
“Players on this trip were comprised of collegiate athletes from Maryland, New Mexico, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Massachusetts,” Finocchi said. “We have had so many new experiences here and have met people from all over Italy. It’s been extremely rewarding to be able to travel with Alexa and Nicole, and to see and play in a different country as beautiful as Italy.”
The group returned to the U.S. on June 14, two months from when Greater Allegheny Women’s Volleyball opens camp for the 2023/24 season.