Joely Virzi ’24 is starting her fourth and final year on the Middlebury women’s soccer team. She was a top scorer for the team last season and is on top of the scoring charts again this year as they head into conference play. In this installment of Seven Questions, Virzi discusses what she loves most about Middlebury, the soccer team and her time as an athlete the past three years.
Molly Harrison: How is your senior year going so far?
Joely Virzi: It’s really fun, I think starting off in preseason with the team is always such a good ease into the semester. I was abroad my junior spring so I missed the team a lot, so it was really good to see everyone’s faces again and just start playing soccer because I really missed it. So far my classes have been awesome, I really love my professors and my class sizes are small and very engaging. Basically, it has just been really nice to see everyone after being abroad — all my track teammates, all my soccer teammates and all my friends that I didn’t see while I was abroad. It is good to be back in the Middlebury bubble.
MH: What position do you play in soccer and what do you like about it?
JV: I am an outside forward, but I play anywhere my coach needs me on the attacking side of the field. I love it because you always have an opportunity to change the game. Your team relies on you to score the goals, you just always have to be ready to go and finish when you need to for your team. But I also love that it’s not just scoring goals and creating opportunities, you also have to track back and do the work defensively. I also love how you can always form connections with your teammates up top and be super creative on the ball.
MH: What is your favorite Middlebury soccer memory?
JV: I would say my sophomore year [in 2021], which was my first season because of Covid-19. We started off pretty low in the NESCAC and kept losing games, but we knew we were really good and had potential. Then we kind of climbed our way back into the rankings, and we had two big penalty kick shootout wins in the NESCAC semifinals and the finals. So it was just a really hard fought season and we overcame a lot, and we ended up winning the NESCAC championship. So, that’s probably my favorite memory, just when it finally all paid off.
MH: Do you have any favorite team traditions?
JV: My favorite is probably the day before a game, we have a lighter practice. We have these bins in the locker room filled with so many ridiculous outfits and colors, shirts, dresses, sunglasses, literally every accessory. We dress in funny clothing, in the colors of the team you are playing for your game. Some people go really hard and they show up to practice in a really funky dress and sunglasses and face paint. It’s fun because we still have a good practice but it makes it a little more lighthearted. Also, on gameday in the locker room when all of the coaches come in, we always start off with a random group of three or four people who go up and sing a song. They replace the lyrics with their own lyrics, and a lot of it is inside jokes of the team. It all just relates to our team. So, it’s a fun song that you sing, and then you pass it off secretly to another person to do it for the next game.
MH: Aside from soccer, what made you want to come to Middlebury?
JV: I knew I wanted to go somewhere where I would be challenged academically and surrounded by motivated, creative individuals. Middlebury felt like a second home instantly — from the beautiful Vermont landscape to the incredible people, it had the perfect combination of everything.
MH: Now that you have been here for almost four years, is there anything about your time playing soccer here that is different from how you imagined it would be coming in as a freshman?
JV: Yes, I feel like it has been a lot grittier than I anticipated. In high school, it is pretty calm and you are the star of your team in high school. Then you get to college and it is just fun to be with thirty or so people who all share the same work ethic that you do. The games aren’t easy. In high school and before that, you always have a hard game that you look forward to and then you have some easier ones. In the NESCAC, I feel like every game is so intense, so it is just a really fun bonding experience to be with thirty of your best friends to grind out these really hard games.
MH: What is your favorite activity when you are not playing soccer?
JV: I always like going to all of the different water holes in Vermont. I went to Bristol Falls twice already this year; I love going to Dunmore and driving to see the sunsets there. I think it is just fun to take advantage of the Vermont landscape and go on hikes, especially when the leaves are changing colors.