Juliann Faucette: The J-Factor (ENnglish version)

Why is Juliann Faucette listed among the characters of the musical “Guys and Dolls” of the Westview High School? Is it a case of homonymy of is it the same Juliann Faucette who plays as an outside hitter at the Unendo Yamamay? For those who wonder, she is the very same J who wears the number 1 of Busto Arsizio volleyball team. “Musicals is something I really like: I prefer them to regular movies or other plays. My favorite musical ever isWicked” that tells the story of “The Land of Oz” from the perspective of the witches . In high school I was personally involved in a lot of musicals: singing and acting were things I used to do and love, but I didn't have a lot of time for them because of volleyball. Once, I was in the musical“Guys and Dolls” : I was a Cuban lady dancer and I had a solo where I had both to sing and dance. That was a lot of fun for me as I had all those salsa dancing parts in bright- yellow costumes”. 

Yes sirs! Juliann is not only one of the most powerful attacker of the Italian league, but she is also a skilled and passionate singer who among hard trainings and matches finds time to dedicate herself to music and to exercise her singing skills. Just enter her name on You-Tube and you will find a channel with all her performances: “I started singing when I was young but I learned a lot when I was at high school where I had a special choir teacher who was known to be one of the best vocal coaches in California. Thanks to her I developed better vocal skills although I had to leave it to focus better on volleyball during my college years. As a consequence, I didn't really have time to practice very much. I used to sing the national anthem before some matches or particular events especially for our school or planned weddings when friends needed someone to sing. Nothing special, actually, until last year when my mom asked me which show I wanted to do: X Factor or The Voice” - remembers Juliann laughing- “They were having trials but I was in Italy in Urbino at this time: thus, I opened a You-Tube channel so I could practice and show my skills. But eventually, I didn't try for any show so it ended to be only a You-Tube channel for me where I could put my songs for me. I couldn't imagine people could find out about it, but after I performed one song at the team presentation one month ago, here in Busto, my You-Tube channel was visited by a lot of people especially Italians”. A passion that is not in conflict with her career as a volleyball player, but that instead plays an important role in it: “If I had to make a choice between singing or playing volleyball it would be a difficult decision to take. I really don't know: I love volleyball and I want to be a great player but singing makes me feel free and I love this sensation. It also allows me to perform better on court and that is why I would like to do both”.

 These two passions will be always exiting in Juliann's heart, but for now the American hitter has decided to dedicate herself to her volleyball career; a career that started in 2004 at the San Diego Volleyball Club: “I started playing when I was 14; I was introduced to the game by my father who was a university football coach in Texas. I was visiting him for the summer and he asked me if I wanted to attend the volleyball camp at his university and I said yes.The first time they saw me playing they thought I would be a setter” - she recalls amused - “it is really funny as I turned out to be really strong and really hard attacker so I am glad that eventually someone saw something different in me. As a setter I would have been definitely in the wrong position”. Since her very beginning Juliann's destiny was somehow linked to Italy and the Italian volleyball league: “ever since I knew you could play professional volleyball after college, I wanted to play in Italy. I am half Italian and my grand-parents are Italian: from my father side my grandma is Sicilian and from my mum side my grandpa is from the North. Thus, I knew and appreciated already the Italian culture very much. I remember that when I was younger I used to watch a lot of pictures about Italian volleyball players; in particular, I remember looking at pictures of Francesca Piccinini and thinking how bigger star she was here. Since a very early time I then knew I wanted to play in Italy if I could and so when I first got the call from Urbino I was very happy and I took it”. The dream came true last year when not only Juliann played in an Italian team – the Chateau D'Ax Urbino - but she also faced on court Francesca: “while playing against Piccinini I was sort of smiling to myself, thinking how now I was playing against her when I was looking at pictures of her only a few years back when I was younger. It was very cool to see how far I had gone”. 

But things do not happen for a pure question of luck: Juliann is a very motivated and dedicated player whose greater strength is her passion towards this game: “what characterizes me the most is my great passion: whether I am on or off court I'm going to give all of my own and so when I am called to enter the court I would be very excited and would give my all to give my best contribution. I think I have a lot of pride that allows me to play at my best levels. Indeed, I am very hard-working and I set goals to myself and I don't give up until I achieve them. However, on the negative side, I am a perfectionist so I like and want everything to be perfect and as it is not always possible, sometimes I have problems with it”. However, although coming to Italy was somehow in her destiny, leaving US was not painless: “I was really sad and nervous when it was the time to move. I remember being at the airport and had to say goodbye to all my family and just look back at their faces and be aware that I wouldn't see them for a long time was a little scary. Eventually, it ended up very well: in Urbino I had a great experience and I grew up a lot. If I have to tell the true, I miss Texas and its unique culture a lot: Texas is where I went to College and where I have my friends. Although Italian is my favorite food, I really miss Mexican recipes I used to find there. Not to mention the fact that here in Italy is impossible to find drier” she jokes. In her college career, this outside-hitter from San Diego achieved great results and was selected All-Big 12 First Team and Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2007 and competed also internationally with her Junior national team. Her career-highlight however was last year during a crucial match precisely against her current team: “the most important match that brought me to be in the place I am today is the one Urbino played against Busto in the Cev Cup semifinals. In that occasion, I had the chance to play and I did very well and showed Busto what I had: now I am here with them as they saw something in me and they wanted me to be in their team rather than against them. That was one of the most important matches I had to play in my career as I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't being playing that day. When Unendo Yamamay contacted me I was very happy and excited. I can remember precisely that day when I received the email from Busto: I told myself I wanted to play for them not only because of Carli (Lloyd) – who is my best friend - but because I had seen coach Parisi and the way he was coaching his team and I saw the chemistry that he had been able to create with his players on court. I wanted to be part of that group so bad that when they called me I could do nothing but accepting”. At heart, J defined herself a “very optimistic person, who plays life full-on, outgoing, enthusiastic and curious. I am very spiritual, I am outgoing when I am comfortable with people, I have a lot of confidence or I am good at portraying I have a lot, I am curious person and that element increased as I grew up”. And although she does not give much credit to the horoscope, she matches perfectly the description of a true Sagittarius. 

The American outside-hitter was born in San Diego “a completely different place from Busto Arsizio, especially from a climate point of view” she says, on November 25th a very particular day as it falls with Thanksgiving celebrations in the US: “ Sometimes my birthday falls with Thanksgiving, and so we used to celebrate it at my grandma's eating a lot of food and watching football. Since I started playing professionally, these family reunions are become more rare, that is why a memorable time for me was the night of my senior game at college when I was turning 21 and my family was with me. It was important as they traveled from California to Texas just to be with me that special day. Now that I am in Italy distance is even more and I suffer it a lot: last year I celebrated my birthday playing and having a cake with my teammates. But I miss my family very much. That is why if I could wish something in front of my birthday cake that would be being with my family at the same time playing volleyball. That would be as fantastic as winning the championship this year”. And who knows that by blowing out her birthday candles, J's dreams may come true. At heart, as her favorite musical teaches us, when you are with those you love, also “defying gravity” becomes possible.

The original article is published on the November 2012 issue of Pallavoliamo.it


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