For all intents and purposes, Giulia Pezzolla was born to play soccer.
“I think I was about six,” Pezzolla said. “Or maybe even younger. I’ve been playing soccer my whole life. I absolutely loved it right away. It fit my lifestyle. It was just something I did every day.”
Pezzolla became so proficient at soccer that she was placed on the Lyndhurst High School varsity right away as a freshman.
“I knew I had potential,” Pezzolla said. “But that’s when it hit me.”
And Pezzolla was born to be a midfielder.
“The way I play, it was all about running,” Pezzolla said. “I would be flying. I just loved running up and down the field. I loved it.”
“I think it helped her a lot in soccer,” said Kim Hykey, the head girls’ soccer coach at Lyndhurst. “In soccer, you have to get up and down the field and Giulia did that so well. She made it look effortless. She had the God’s given talent to keep on running and that made her so difficult to defend. She also did a great job of defending others.”
Pezzolla did an exceptional job on the soccer field, scoring 58 goals and tallying 55 assists in her career. She had 22 goals and 13 assists as a sophomore and tallied 16 goals and had 10 assists last fall as a senior.
“She really developed her foot skills,” Hykey said. “She was a natural on the ball, but she was able to get in and out of tight spots. She really made it look easy. She would do simple runs and keep the ball on her feet. Not many have that technique naturally, but she did it. And she needed to be quick with the ball.”
Somewhere in the middle of all the running around, Pezzolla was introduced to the sport of track and field. It’s something she never did before high school, but it was something that she took to right away. It also helped that Hykey was also the girls’ track coach.
“You could definitely see her going from the soccer field to track,” Hykey said.
“It started a little freshman year,” Pezzolla said. “I did it at first just to stay in shape. I just figured that I would try it, but as it turned out, I kind of liked it. As soon as I started, I was hooked. I still had soccer, but track sort of just took over.”
And it certainly did when Pezzolla was a sophomore and started to dominate every event she entered.
“I guess my sophomore year definitely showed me how I could do,” Pezzolla said. “It was like, ‘Wow, I can do this!’ I liked it and had to keep doing it. I liked the combination of the two.”
“She literally did everything we asked her to do,” Hykey said. “Her pure athleticism made her who she was. She had the ability to handle it all.”
Just how much? Well, in her track and field career at Lyndhurst, Pezzolla competed in the 200, 400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs. She also was a mainstay in the team’s 4×100-meter relay. She also did the intermediate hurdles and competed in the long jump, triple jump and high jump.
“She did them all and did them all well,” Hykey said. “She also ran in the 4×200 (meter relay) and the 4×400 (meter relay). It’s funny, I never thought about it until I had to write it all down for our awards banquet and had to write what I was going to say about her. I reflected on it and said, ‘Wow, that’s pretty cool.’”
It’s also pretty incredible that one athlete could compete in all those events during the course of her career.
“I never thought of it,” Pezzolla said. “I only wanted to do whatever the team needed me to do. I never realized it was that much until it was said to me. It blows my mind.”
In indoor track last winter, Pezzolla won the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference championship in the 800-meter run in 2:29.80 and was second in the 1,600-meter run in 5:33.40. She was sixth in the 600-meter run at the Bergen County Meet of Champions and ninth in the 1,600-meter run at the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I championships.
In outdoor track in the spring, Pezzolla was undefeated in her regular season meets and won the NJIC-Liberty in both the 800-meter run (2:33.43) and the 1,600-meter run (5:40.79). She was second in the Bergen County Championships-Division C in both the 800 and 1,600 meter runs and was third in the Bergen County Seat championships in the 400-meter run.
She was fifth at the Bergen County Meet of Champions in the 1,600, third in both the 800 and 1,600 in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II championships and was 13th overall in the 800 and 14th overall in the 1,600 in the NJSIAA Group II championships.
Not a bad career at all.
And for her efforts, Pezzolla has been named as The Observer Female Athlete of the Year for the scholastic sports year of 2018-19. Pezzolla became the third Lyndhurst girl to receive the award, joining Cassie Indri (2008-2009) and Camila Alonso, Lyndhurst (2012-2013).
Pezzolla received her award recently from Lisa Feorenzo, the co-owner and advertising director of The Observer.
Hykey thinks that Pezzolla’s career as a runner is just beginning, as she has already signed her National Letter of Intent to attend Monmouth University in the fall.
“I’m intrigued to see what she does running cross country,” Hykey said. “I think she’s a natural distance runner. I can’t wait to see what she can do.”
“Now that I’m running track full-time, I’d like to run cross country,” Pezzolla said. “I’m definitely an 800 and 1,600-meter runner.”
Pezzolla is shocked that she was named as the area’s top female athlete.
“I definitely never thought that I’d accomplish this,” Pezzolla said. “I never thought I’d even like track. I really don’t think I’ve reached my top ability yet.”
But she’s definitely left her mark at Lyndhurst.
“No doubt about it, she will be in our Hall of Fame some day,” Hykey said. “She was one of the best athletes we have had her in a long while. She’s really special. She should be proud of who she became. I’m going to miss her a lot.”
So is the rest of Lyndhurst.
Giulia Pezzolla of Lyndhurst is the 2018-2019 Observer Female Athlete of the Year. She is receiving her award (center left) from Lisa Feorenzo, the co-owner of The Observer (center right). From left are, Vice Principal Frank Venezia, Principal Laura Vuono, Guilia’s parents Gary and Dolores, Giulia, Lisa, head soccer and track coach Kim Hykey, athletic director Jeff Radigan and former head track coach Tom Shoebridge.