Natalie Rocco – Becoming Best in State

Junior Natalie Rocco’s climb to success as one of the best volleyball blockers in Virginia.

Sadie Spearin, Staff Writer

Junior, co-captain, middle hitter, and #12 on the varsity volleyball team at Western Albemarle, Natalie Rocco, joined the team as a freshman and is now finishing her second year on varsity. First inspired by her sister who played volleyball for Western, Rocco is now one of the best top blockers in Virginia.

Rocco has helped lead the team to a six-one-season., winning the region championship for the first time in years. She has been selected as “player of the match,” for multiple games, due to her blocks and strategy. However, she didn’t expect that she would be in this position. Born into an athletic family, she grew up watching her dad, Dave Rocco, coach football at Covenant, and her sister Arianna dominate the volleyball court. She involved herself in volleyball in middle school, placing herself on the best team in seventh grade. “As a middle schooler, I would go to her games and manage and I always wanted to be where she was, and now I’m there,” said Rocco.

Not only is Rocco one of the best blockers in the state, but she is also one of the best players on the team. At the beginning of the season, she was awarded the title of co-captain, which is an unlikely position for juniors. “I’ve found some difficulty transitioning to captain because I am young, but I like the position,” said Rocco. Valeria Diaz, who has been managing the sport since her freshman year, spoke on Rocco’s role on the team. “I think it is very important that she is a part of our team because she is a powerful athlete and she has an excellent mindset for the game, especially when the team is down,” stated Diaz. Rocco’s role as a leader in the team is incredibly important because she is known to uplift and influence the team to have a better spirit, which is observed by coaches and teammates.

Despite the loss of eight seniors last year, the team has worked to rebuild its connection and has led an outstanding season so far, winning the Jefferson District championship. “In past years there have been different groups on the team, but this year we all flow together and we are able to come together and be best friends during games which is a great thing to have. Each player brings something different to the table, making us a more competitive and stronger group,” claimed Rocco when asked about the team dynamic this season. “The relationships I’ve built from volleyball have had a really important impact on my life.”

However, Rocco doesn’t plan to end her volleyball career for a while. Thinking toward the future, she hopes to continue the game into college and follow in her father’s footsteps as a coach. “I definitely didn’t think I’d make it this far, and this is really a life-changing experience for me.” Her confidence on the court continues to grow with each game. Overall, Natalie Rocco has found her calling with volleyball and has helped unite the team, working herself up to becoming the best blocker in the state.

Image Caption: Natalie Rocco’s winning serve, which has led the team to many wins this season.