Lausanne, Switzerland, August 8, 2020 – Lucia Fresco is part of a generation that has changed the course of women’s volleyball in Argentina. A key member of the country’s national team since 2009, the 29-year-old opposite has helped Las Panteras (The Panthers, in Spanish) to some of their most meaningful results to date.
Over the last decade, the South Americans have moved up the FIVB world rankings and have done so by accomplishing some unprecedented results and returning to major tournaments.
Most notably, a generation that also includes setter Yael Castiglione, outside hitter Yas Nizetich and libero Tatiana Rizzo qualified their country for its first two Olympics, the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Games.
The list of accolades also includes returning to the FIVB World Championship after 12 years in 2014, winning a bronze medal for the first time at the Pan-American Games in 2019, appearing at the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix for the first time in 2011 and winning the country’s first-ever silver medal at the South American Championships in 2009.
“Our generation only realized the power of what we accomplished after we did each of these things,” Fresco reflected during a live interview with Youtube channel Puro Voley
. “Coming from where we came from, there was no way we could plan or even dream about getting these results, so it was something we worked hard for, but didn’t really anticipate. Qualifying for the Olympics twice in a row seemed so unrealistic and here we are.”
These exceptional results have turned the spotlight on Las Panteras and made the members of the team examples for young Argentineans who aim to become professional players.
The 1.95m-tall Fresco, typically the team’s leading scorer in tournaments, doesn’t shy away from the responsibility. The opposite feels proud and grateful to be able to provide the encouraging words she didn’t always receive at the beginning of her career.
“I get tons of requests to send messages or to record birthday videos for younger players,” the opposite added. “And I take the responsibility of being a role model for these players very seriously as I didn’t have that kind of reference to look up to when I started. I understand the difference we can make in their lives. Our references at the time were the male players from our country because the women’s team wasn’t on TV and didn’t compete in the major tournaments, so that’s another thing we accomplished.”
Headed for Korea, where she’ll play for Heungkuk Life Pink Spider for a second-straight season, Fresco plans to spend the next few years with the Argentinean national team, but when she decides to step away from her playing career, there’s still a chance she will have an impact on the lives of up-and-coming Argentinean players.
Turning into a head coach is not necessarily part of the opposite’s plans right now, but it’s not something she rules out either. And if she decides to move from the court to the sidelines, she would certainly like to pass her knowledge on to a future generations of players.
“People often ask me if I want to be a coach when I retire and I really don’t have an answer at this time,” she said. “It’s not something I think about now, but life sometimes puts surprises in our way, so I never say never. I don’t see myself working with a senior team, but I do enjoy teaching younger players so if that were to happen, I would think it would be with a youth or junior team probably.”
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