By Rich Fisher
June 28: Since Gianna Lucchesi was just a little girl, Hamilton Township sports fans have known about her athletic prowess for multiple teams. Be it soccer, basketball or lacrosse; be it in CYO or at the Pennington School, Lucchesi was a standout.
What fewer people knew, is that Gianna was as smart in the classroom as she was talented on the field. And now the whole country knows it, as it was announced on Thursday that Lucchesi was selected to the United Soccer Coaches High School Scholar All-America Team. With the honor comes an invitation to attend the USC All-America Ceremony on Jan. 18, 2020, honoring all of the All-Americans and Scholar All-Americans for youth, high school and college soccer in 2019. The event will take place in conjunction with the annual United Soccer Coaches Convention, at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland.
“Winning just an All-American puts me in awe, so being a Scholar All-American honestly makes me speechless,” the Hamilton Square resident said. “I remember when I got the email two days ago and my mom and dad both started screaming my name. They both embraced me with the biggest hug and it’s a feeling I will never forget. I didn’t do this alone though. I have to thank Hawk, Murph (Pennington coaches Bill Hawkey and Pat Murphy), my family, my teachers, and the Pennington girls soccer team for always pushing me. It’s because of them that I am who I am. This award means the world to me. I’m truly honored and blessed.”
In a newspaper interview earlier this year, Lucchesi lamented that she had a 3.9 grade point average, since she wanted to achieve that perfect 4.0. But this latest in a long line of honors takes that frustration away.
“It definitely makes up for it,” she said. “I feel like this solidifies my hard work and efforts in the classroom and shows that soccer isn’t all that I’m about. In a rigorous learning environment like Pennington, one that will prepare for another rigorous institution like (the University of) Richmond, it will not only help me do well in the classroom but it will also help me balance my schedule.
“Ultimately it’s a higher level in every aspect, but I think Pennington did its job with preparing me with school and figuring out how to maintain my schedule. Although soccer is so important to me, doing well for my myself educationally is also so incredibly important. Missing by the point-one (.1) of course will bother me but I know that when I was at Pennington, I put all my effort into my schoolwork and I will continue my strong effort at Richmond.”
Lucchesi plays defender on the pitch and has won countless awards throughout her career. As a senior she was named All-Prep, All-State, made the Mercer 33 team and played in the High School All-American game. While such success can make a player want to bask in the glory and not worry about other aspects of school, Gianna never took that approach.
Aside from her classroom excellence, Lucchesi served as a Senior Student Ambassador, was a member of the Art Club and volunteered for Home Front and “Score for the Cure.” She understood that without a solid classroom foundation, her athletic career would be limited when it came to picking a college.
“I feel like I have always had a drive for my academics,” she said. “It’s been something that I not only needed to strive in, but wanted to. I love being educated about issues around me, in the past, and everything in between. I feel like soccer was my motivation to do well in the classroom. At the end of the day, if you don’t keep your grades up, you don’t play and fortunately I loved to do both so it was kind of a win-win. Playing soccer is my outlet of expression and it’s something I’m so excited for starting August 1.”
With her strong track record, one might think classroom success came easy for Lucchesi, but that was not always the case. Much of it was due to her self-motivation and a pride in doing well in all facets of her life.
“Pennington was the perfect place for me to do that,” she said. “I do enjoy learning because I like feeling educated on what I’m talking about. Of course, certain subjects aren’t my favorite, but at the end of the day you can’t get out of them so I might as well do well instead of complaining. Although the material may be boring or something I don’t understand, you still work hard to get the result you want and that’s what I always strived to do in the classroom and the field.”
And she did just that, as confirmed by this latest honor.