By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
It’s not easy being the little sister when you’re brother is a baseball star, but during the last four years Stephanie Di Ianni has made a name for herself at Holy Spirit High School, both with the Spartans’ athletic programs and in the classroom.
Di Ianni, who recently graduated, was a member of the cheerleading squad and was named a team captain during her senior year, and also was a key part of one of the best girls crew teams in South Jersey. In addition, this Old Cape Recycling Scholar Athlete also managed to get the job done in the classroom despite a tough athletic schedule.
“I did make a name for myself. I wasn’t trying to outshine my brother because he did a lot of great things with baseball, but I wanted to be like, ‘hey, I’m here, too,’” Di Ianni said. “We weren’t really competitive. We would help each other if we needed it, but we weren’t really ever like, ‘hey, I’m better than you.’”
Mike Di Ianni was an outstanding baseball player for the Spartans a few years ago and now pitches for Gwynedd Mercy College in Pennsylvania. And while he’s had his share of accolades, so, too, has Stephanie. She helped the Spartans’ crew team earn a medal at the Stotesbury Cup, one of the biggest regattas of the season, in three of her four years.
“Crew was the big thing for me. I just loved it, and we had such a great season every year and my coaches were very supportive,” Di Ianni said. “My mom had me do a camp when I was in sixth grade to see if I would like it. I did it for sixth through eighth grade, then tried it in high school and the coaches told me I was pretty good, so I just stuck with it.”
Crew workouts are notoriously tough on the body, which makes keeping high grades a challenge. It’s not an easy thing to hit the books late at night after a full day at school and a practice that can last into the early evening hours, as well as long weekend trips to regattas.
“I have good time management. In class, or when I had free time, I would try to get all my work done so I didn’t have to do it at home, because I’m always getting home late. I don’t want to be up all night doing homework, so whenever I had free time, instead of going on my phone or anything like that, I would get my work done. It was definitely a lot, but it wasn’t that hard to get used to. You just have to get yourself into a routine, and once you get into that routine, it’s pretty easy,” Di Ianni said. “It definitely was tougher in the spring — a lot tougher than any other time of year. After practices, I wouldn’t get home until about 7 p.m., and if I had a test the next day I still had to eat, shower and get ready, then I would have to sit and do my homework and study. So, it was definitely a lot more challenging because you are a lot more tired. But, I managed.”
She said her parents, Dave and Tina, never put any pressure on her athletically or academically, and let her figure out on her own how to accomplish all that she wanted to during her high school career.
“They let me do what I wanted and said that whatever sports I wanted to be involved with they would be supportive in anything I chose to do,” Di Ianni said. “I had a study hall, so sometimes I would just save my homework for study hall. If I had a big test the next day and a lot of other homework, I would save my other homework for study hall and just study for the big test. I didn’t really feel a lot of pressure. I kind of just studied and did what I did. I didn’t stress myself out over my grades.”
Di Ianni, who plans on majoring in communication science disorders at Jacksonville University, said she didn’t believe people who told her that her high school career would be over before she knew it.
“Everyone told me freshman to enjoy high school because it will go by quickly. I was like, ‘it’s four years, it’s not going to go by that quickly,’” she said. “And here I am, I just graduated and I’m getting ready for college. My mom tells me how we have to go dorm shopping and I still feel like I’m a sophomore. I can’t believe it.”
While she has big plans for the future, Di Ianni, an Egg Harbor Township resident, said she’ll never forget her roots at Spirit.
“Holy Spirit is a big family. Everyone is so supportive and everyone is there for each other,” she said. “I loved it. I felt at home there.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays
By DAVE O’SULLIVAN