Gina DellaRose isn’t a particularly imposing person: She barely clears five feet tall, has flowing brown hair and wide brown eyes, and is one of the sweetest-spoken girls you could ever meet. But don’t let her diminutive stature and charm fool you—she’s the best darn athlete to have ever come out of Woodland.
Take a minute to peruse all of DellaRose’s accomplishments at Woodland: She was the school’s first all-state athlete, was named to a combined seven all-NVL teams and six all-state teams (which is the highest combined total in school history), still owns six track school records, is still the only girls’ soccer player to achieve New Haven Register All-Area honors, shares the school’s single-season goal-scoring record (23 in 2004), and is one of only three athletes to have her name on three different banners in the Woodland gym.
Despite all these accolades, however, DellaRose maintains her individual accomplishments are not at the top of her favorite memories from her years as a Hawk.
“I think it’s cool that people think of me when they think of the top athletes,” she says, “But it’s not a big deal to me that I’m up there. I’m really honored for it, but seeing those banners reminds me not of individual stuff, but of how much I loved the teams I was on.”
The fifth-year senior at Southern Connecticut State University has plenty of memories from the Woods, none better than her soccer senior night against Torrington at Hotchkiss Park in Prospect.
“It was overall a great game,” DellaRose says. “I had to have at least three goals. I actually committed to Southern after that game. But that wasn’t why it was so great. Those girls were my best friends and that was the field I had trained on my whole life. I started and ended there.”
Ended there? In one sense, yes, but in another, DellaRose was just beginning. She’s had the most successful college career of any Woodland alumnus, being named the Northeast-10 Conference Freshman of the Year, twice being named to the All-NE-10 team, twice being named to the NEWISA All-New England team, and this year was named to the NCSAA All-America East Region Third Team. She was also a two-year captain and ranks eighth in Owls history in three different statistical categories.
DellaRose isn’t done, though. When her soccer career ended last fall, she migrated to the Southern track team to relive the greatness she once earned at Woodland.
“It’s bringing back a lot of high school memories,” DellaRose says. “Track has been out of my life for so long, so I’ve been thinking about what we used to do at Woodland. I love running and I figured I would be running by myself. I think it’s kinda cool to look back and see that I did two sports in college.”
Soccer still reigns supreme for DellaRose, both for the fact that she loves the team aspect on the pitch and for the fact that she never lost her lunch over a game. Track on the other hand…
“With soccer I never used to get nervous because it’s a team sport and other girls could always pick me up if I made a mistake,” DellaRose explains. “I never got nervous with relay races with because we’re on a team. But with an individual race, it’s all on me. I would actually get sick sometimes.”
DellaRose didn’t get sick last week, though, when she set a personal best in the mile with a time of 5 minutes, 12 seconds—“a lot better than I ran in high school…somehow,” DellaRose says. What makes that feat even more impressive is the fact that it was just DellaRose’s second meet since graduating from Woodland in 2005.
While competing in the last athletic seasons of her career, DellaRose is also finishing up a degree in marketing. She says she will be starting to look for internships in the summer and also wants to start coaching and training with soccer. Not only does she want to coach the sport she loves, she also has advice for the young boy or girl who wants to be the next Woodland athlete of the decade.
“Don’t think about awards and banners,” she says. “Do what you love and train like you love it and I think they will come naturally.”
Despite everything she accomplished on the fields and tracks at Woodland and Southern, DellaRose still isn’t sure she’s worthy of being the Hawks’ athlete of the decade. Instead, she would choose our best male for the honor.
“Definitely Shane [Kingsley],” she says. “He’s an overall great athlete. I know he loves his sports as much as I do. I saw him play a lot and he was incredible.”
DellaRose isn’t going to just hand over the honor, though. But will the ever-amiable athlete hold this over Kingsley’s head for the foreseeable future?
“Yes,” she jokes. “He will always remember this.”