NAUGATUCK — Erika Andreoli is gearing up for her junior year at Naugatuck High School and is hard at work preparing for the start of the Greyhounds’ volleyball season. But if she seems a little distracted, who can blame her?
Andreoli recently was selected to play softball for Team America next summer when the team travels to Greece and Italy for a nine-day, four-game journey overseas.
Andreoli played second base and the outfield for Naugatuck in the spring and has spent the summer playing for the Connecticut Tigers, a travel softball club. The opportunity to play overseas came when her Tigers coach Scott Aresco was tabbed as the head coach of Team America.
“This is pretty exciting,” Andreoli said. “I couldn’t believe it when my coach asked me to be a part of this. This is a good experience for me and to be playing out of the country, and meeting all sorts of people will be fun.”
Aresco is also the head softball coach at Maloney High and selected 19 players from Foran, Cheshire, Harding and Lyman Hall. The team has already begun practice at the Dunn Sports Complex in Meriden.
Four years ago Aresco took a team to Italy, so he is familiar with the overseas traveling. Team America will leave on July 14, 2014, and arrive in Athens, Greece, the following day. While in Greece the team will tour the Acropolis and the Parthenon.
After playing two games in Greece, the team will take a cruise to Italy, where it will visit Pompeii, Rome and the Vatican followed by two more games before returning home.
“This is certainly an amazing opportunity for my daughter,” Kim Andreoli, Erika’s mother, said. “I will be going as one of the chaperones and my older daughter Lauren will be going as well.”
The trip is coordinated through America’s Team, which has partnered with the American Council for International Studies for more than 30 years to use sports to help athletes learn about a foreign country, its people and culture, according to its website.
“I don’t know any Italian but I have some time to pick up some of the basic speech,” Erika said. “We will be spending a lot of time interacting with these foreign players so it would be nice to be able to converse with them.”
This won’t be the first time that Erika has played far from home. She has played at Disney World with the Greyhounds and her Connecticut Tigers finished second in a national tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C., last summer.
“This past high school season I gained a little bit of confidence playing two positions, second base and the outfield,” Erika said. “I struggled a bit with my hitting but continued to work at it over the summer with the Tigers. I’m seeing some improvement and we will be working out over the winter to get ready for this trip.”
Andreoli will not only be going on the trip of a lifetime but she will also be getting some valuable exposure from college coaches. That may be a little too far away to think about just yet; besides, there are a lot of other things to think about when you are preparing to go to Greece and Italy.