Commencement 2017: URI softball player, scholar recounts accomplishments as commencement approaches

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Danielle Gariglio

KINGSTON, R.I.- April 17, 2017- “This place bleeds Keaney Blue,” said senior softball player, team captain, and journalism major Danielle Gariglio as she addressed a group of her peers on the eve of her last season here at the University of Rhode Island.

She addressed her fellow student-athletes during a reception for those who compete for URI and who have been selected to the Dean’s List. She is now in her final weeks at the University as commencement approaches May 21.

Becoming the captain of a Division I softball team who also excels in academics did not happen overnight for Gariglio, but rather was a long, slow process that began at age 5 when she began playing T-ball. By 8, she had advanced to softball and at 10, she was on a travel softball team.

“From age 10 until college, my weekends during the summer and fall were spent traveling the East Coast playing in tournaments from Massachusetts to Virginia,” the Massapequa Park, N.Y. native said. “I practically grew up in the front seat of my mom’s minivan.”

Gariglio credits her mother for getting her involved in the game at a young age. Her mother played Division II softball at Long Island University and was her first youth coach. Gariglio is indebted to her mother for her many sacrifices.

In addition to travel softball, she played on a travel volleyball team in high school. Immediately after school, Gariglio would go to volleyball practice, grab a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then head to softball practice until 10 p.m. By 10:30, she would finally get started on her homework. Balancing all of this helped Gariglio come to the conclusion at an early age that, “if you don’t manage your time wisely you’re sure to be on a sinking ship.”

Still, the college recruiting process was tiring. Gariglio toured dozens of schools and participated in softball clinics everywhere she went. While she loved URI the minute she stepped on campus, Gariglio was wary about the size of the campus and its Division I athletic program. URI was the only top-level athletic program she considered.

“My high school coach had always told me to consider this: imagine things were to fall through with softball, would you still be happy at this school?” Gariglio said. “With that in mind, and once I put my doubts aside, it was an easy choice. I was really interested in the Harrington School seeing as it was just beginning to grow, and look at how incredible it is now. Softball here was just a bonus.”

Gariglio’s involvement and achievements at URI spread far beyond the field and the classroom.

She has been a student-athlete orientation leader and a Lambs to Rams peer mentor, which both involve welcoming new student-athletes to campus and making sure they acclimate well. She is a part of URI’s Bystander Intervention Program, has worked as a media relations assistant for URI athletics, and is a member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars and The Golden Key and Phi Eta Sigma Honors Societies.

But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing since her arrival in Kingston. Halfway through her college career, the softball program went through a coaching change. Still, she welcomed the change because she wanted to be part of a squad that would make it to the Atlantic 10 tournament and would work to eliminate a culture that seemed to be content with losing.

It was a daunting task, especially in her sophomore year when the team won just 3 out of 44 games.

“That was the most trying time of my life and really made me doubt what I was doing here,” Gariglio said.  “With the help of our new coaches, positive changes have really started to happen. I believe no matter what happens with this season, when I leave URI softball it will be better than I found it.”

After college, Gariglio hopes to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and become a collegiate athletic director. “If it weren’t for the leaders in my life, like Thorr Bjorn (director of athletics) and Gina Sperry (associate director of athletics),” Gariglio said, “I would not have realized that this is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.”

Gariglio’s experience here has been a rewarding one and has helped her cultivate relationships that will last a lifetime. “Nothing has ever made me more proud than to wear the words Rhode Island across my chest,” she said. “I know that because I played for URI softball, I have friendships with my teammates and memories and experiences that I can carry with me throughout my entire life.”

Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this piece.