The road to athletic greatness is rarely ever smooth, and for sophomore Joelle D’Angelo, that road took a turn on April 21 of last year at soccer practice.
D’Angelo was just a few months removed from a successful freshman campaign with the women’s soccer team and only a couple weeks from summer break when she decided that she wanted to attempt to walk on the women’s lacrosse team.
On April 20, 2022, D’Angelo sent an email to the lacrosse coaches to talk about all of the possibilities and to potentially walk on. The very next day, at soccer practice, D’Angelo tore her ACL and it put a major setback on everything.
It forced D’Angelo to miss the entire soccer season during the fall of 2022.
Fast forward to now, it has been an incredible start to D’Angelo’s collegiate lacrosse career as the talented sophomore has started in 10/11 games and ranks fourth in total points scored with 10.
It has been exciting to see D’Angelo playing so well from the jump according to head coach Nicol Parcelluzzi.
“It’s rewarding and a testament to how well our athletic training staff and [D’Angelo] have worked in order to recover and return playing at such a high level,” Parcelluzzi said.
It has been a long period of recovery and being away from her favorite hobbies so D’Angelo is just excited to finally be back doing what she loves.
“I obviously love competing,” D’Angelo said. “I love sports in general, it’s my whole life. I definitely missed it a lot so I’m just happy to be here, even on the hard days.”
Suffering a severe injury can be scary for some because of the many unknowns but for D’Angelo, it was all just a part of the process.
“When I first tore my ACL, I wasn’t scared because I knew I could handle situations like this,” D’Angelo said. “I’ve overcome adversity before, this was just another bump in the road unfortunately. But I knew there were a lot of lessons to come from this and there have been.”
D’Angelo walked with confidence throughout the journey and did not allow herself to have any room to doubt. She received support from many and even had some teammates going through the same process with her during last fall, in which they all helped each other.
Her extraordinary work ethic and leadership skills are what make her different from the rest.
“[D’Angelo] leads not only by example but demands her teammates to put in the work,” Parcelluzzi said. “She is a motivational leader on and off the field.”
D’Angelo had a fantastic athletic career in high school as well. She was All-State in soccer and All-Conference in soccer, lacrosse and wrestling. She was also a 2x South Region Qualifier and Top-16 in the state in wrestling.
For D’Angelo, wrestling taught her more about herself. It’s a different style of competing compared to team sports but D’Angelo grew as an athlete and as a human during her time wrestling.
“Wrestling also has shown me a completely different side of myself that I never would have known if I didn’t do that,” D’Angelo said. “Which is perseverance, respect, wrestling is a sport by yourself, it’s a single sport so there’s nobody else you can rely on and that was huge, that was something I needed to learn as an athlete because I’ve been playing team sports all my life.”
Soccer was always her first love and she came to Montclair State to play soccer but the thought of lacrosse was always in the back of her mind.
“I always felt like I was interested in lacrosse for college but I never wanted to cheat on soccer because I had been dedicating so much of my life to this sport and I love it so much,” D’Angelo said.
Although it may be tough and physically demanding to keep up with both sports, D’Angelo loves what she does.
“Well it’s like what people say with a job, you’ll never be working if you love what you do and I love what I do,” D’Angelo said. “And I have such a supportive system around me that if I can’t make it to all of the soccer lifts when they’re out of season, they still support me and they’ll come to lacrosse games, stuff like that, there’s a huge balance between the two.”
Montclair State Athletics is lucky to have D’Angelo and it’s safe to say that she will be making her mark on both the soccer and lacrosse programs in the coming years.