Rosario Villagra (Colegio Belgrano HS, Salta, Argentina)
Field Hockey: Forward
NORFOLK, Va. - Many people's lives begin from something that has the power to directly put us on a path toward achieving where we are today.
For Old Dominion field hockey junior forward Rosario Villagra her path was influenced starting as a child while watching her father, Carlos Villagra, play basketball for the Argentine National Team and her mother, Gisela, play tennis. Her father enjoyed watching the Argentine national field hockey team and Rosario took notice of the sport she now plays today at a very early age.
Rosario began playing when she was six years old in Salta, Argentina at club called Uni. At first she could not lift the ball as she does today with her 'Around the World' trick. She would attend one other club called Popeye, where she went on at age 16 to compete for the Argentina Under-16 team and win her first national champioship.
(Rosario picured second row, third from the left as a 16-year old National Champion)
One year later, Rosario played on the Argentina Under-21 team at age 17 and won her second national championship. While in high school she also played volleyball, tennis and ran long distance on the track and field team.
The 17-year old had achieved everything she dreamed of, but practicing once a week and playing a game once a week just wasn't enough for her.
"Everyday after school I would go into my backyard and take as many bottles as I could and use them as cones and I would practice all the time by myself," Villagra exclaimed.
Rosario wanted to continue playing field hockey but could not decide where. "I always wanted to play in another country where I could get a degree while playing field hockey at a high level and America was my first choice."
So why Old Dominion? A lot of athletes are asked that question on the campus but not many respond with this answer- "At a young age I met field hockey defender Melissa Leonetti and she was the nicest person ever. It helped that she was from Old Dominion."
Rosario had not taken a visit to Old Dominion but committed nonetheless. The transition to another country where you don't know anyone is difficult, but the challenge that awaits going somewhere that you can't speak the language is almost impossible to overcome.
In her first season at ODU her teammates would constantly help her ability to speak english as she played in seven games during the year. "Hockey is different in Argentina compared to here and it was difficult my first year, but coming here has made me a better player." Villagra recorded her first point (an assist) against James Madison on Nov. 5, 2011 in the CAA Tournament semifinal game.
Her sophomore season was quite different as she started all 21 games, led the team with 13 goals and was responsible for 34 points during the year. Rosario will also be proud to tell you she scored her first career goal against then No. 25-ranked American.
Just last season as a junior, Rosario attained the Big East Offensive Player of the Year award, while scoring 41 points on 14 goals, while also being named to the NFHCA All-South Region Team, All-Big East First Team and a Virginia First Team All-State selection. Her junior season was highlighted by scoring two goals to help the team win at No. 1 Maryland 3-2, while also adding three assists in the team's 5-0 win against the eventual national champion Connecticut Huskies.
(2013 Big East Offensive Player of the Year Award Winner)
Currently a junior, but soon to be a senior in the upcoming season, Rosario, a co-captain, looks to lead Old Dominion to another Big East Regular Season Title and back into the NCAA Tournament where they went last season. One of five future seniors Villagra also looks forward to having her parents attend Senior Day 2014. "Everything that happened last season was last season, but it is nice to remember as our team continues to grow. We are getting really good incoming players and I'm really excited about this upcoming season," said Villagra.
If you couldn't guess, Ro (as her teammates call her) currently speaks excellent english and is comfortable now more than ever at Old Dominion.
Who has motivated Rosario the most during her career? "My family, I always say my family. My mom, my dad and my little sister, Delfi," said Villagra.
When she is not setting up a corner Rosario likes to hang out with her friends and do whatever they like to do.