Caterina Cigarini, 23, has known since she was 12 years old that she would play volleyball, but the sport has brought much more to her life than she originally imagined. Now, as her collegiate volleyball career comes to a close, she is taking a look back at the relationships she made and the lessons she learned during her time as a Spartan.
Caterina Cigarini celebrates a scored point against Texas Wesleyan University with teammates during the NAIA Women’s Volleyball National Championship in Sioux City, Iowa, in 2019. Cigarini would post a season-high 22 kills to help lead the Spartans to a 3-2 victory. Photos courtesy of MBU Athletics
Cigarini, 23, a senior sports management major with a business administration minor, pursued many sports as a child in her home town of Modena, Italy.
In fact, sports consumed much of her time as she was always an active kid. She swam, rode horses, participated in karate, gymnastics, skiing and tennis.
Although she stayed very active, she knew her passion for volleyball would be the foundation of her dedication and hard work that MBU has seen in her college volleyball career.
“There is nothing about the sport that I don’t love,” Cigarini said. “I love being part of a team, the competition and hard work. I love the environment and excitement around volleyball, especially where I am from.”
Cigarini said volleyball has left her with memories to last a lifetime, especially her time playing for the junior national team.
In the 2018-19 season, Cigarini made the NAIA Women’s Volleyball First Team All-American.
She’s thankful for the opportunities she’s been given through volleyball, like being named All-American, and has taken many lessons from the sport.
“Volleyball has given me everything that I know about life. Anything great in life comes from dedication and hard work,” Cigarini said in a text message. “Time management, willingness to sacrifice and mentality are all important lessons that I have taken from volleyball.”
Cigarini’s teammates know she leaves everything on the court, and they know she makes the team better overall.
Kamden Maas, 22, a junior biotech major from Carlsbad, California, said she respects Cigarini as a player because of her work ethic and commitment.
“Cate is an outstanding player,” Mass said in a text. “Every time she steps on the court not only does she tremendously elevate our team’s play but also sets a higher standard for everyone playing.”
Cigarini said she shares the same respect for her teammates, knowing that she can always rely on them to have her back.
“The most rewarding aspect about volleyball is feeling the support of your teammates on and off the court because we are not just a team but a family,” Cigarini said in a text.
Sarah Bolton, 21, a junior exercise science major from Florissant, Missouri, agreed.
“Caterina’s best attribute is her determination during the matches. She stays focused and is ready to beat any competition that comes her way,” Bolton said.
Cigarini appreciates the opportunities she’s had because of her gift in the sport, but she said she is especially thankful for the opportunity that Chris Nichols, women’s head volleyball coach and beach volleyball coach, gave her when he recruited her as well.
“Everything I learned and improved here I owe it to Coach Nichols,” Cigarini said. “He recruited me … and believed in my potential. I like to say that he is my American dad because he didn’t just help me to improve on the field, but he taught me how to become a better person.”