HOW VANESSA DIBERNARDO
TURNED CHILDHOOD DREAMS INTO REALITY
With a background built for soccer success, Vanessa DiBernardo followed in father Angelo DiBernardo’s footsteps (former US men’s soccer player and 1984 Summer Olympian). What started with kicking a ball around in their family basement led to so much more, including the honor of pulling a red, white, a blue jersey over her head.
Growing up in Naperville, Illinois, DiBernardo started playing soccer at just 4 years old, with dreams of one day playing professionally. On the road to those dreams becoming reality, she has overcome obstacles & acquired a few accolades along the way.
Vanessa's early years really paved the way to her professional success, as she earned her title as ESPN Rise All-American Third Team, Beacon News Girls Soccer Player of the Year, and Chicago Sun-Times All-Area honors. Not to mention, she also helped carry her high school team to State Championship titles in 2007, 2008, and 2010.
And while committing to the University of Illinois, where her degree in Sports Management paired perfectly with her passion, DiBernardo used those collegiate years to capitalize on the opportunity of a lifetime: playing for the U-20 Women’s National Team and competing in a U-20 World Cup in Japan—as well as winning the World Cup in 2012.
Having played basketball, track, cross country, and soccer throughout her life, her team-oriented & sport-centric lifestyle led her to be challenged in ways that life outside soccer simply couldn't.
She was challenged to be a leader, to be a good teammate, to set personal goals, and then set out to reach them. But despite these challenges, her experience, training, talent, determination, and grit led her to the realization of her childhood ambition: signing with the Chicago Red Stars as a professional soccer player in 2014.
WHAT IS YOUR
PROUDEST SPORTS MOMENT?
"Soccer has given me a ton of memories, and has also challenged me in more ways than I ever imagined. One of the greatest experiences I’ve had was playing for the U-20 Women’s National Team and competing in a U-20 World Cup in Japan. I would say my proudest moment is winning the World Cup in 2012 and gaining that experience at such a young age."
And now, she can say that the sport of soccer has allowed her to cross borders, meet life-changing people, and travel all around the world -- all with the ball at her feet. The sport, along with those experiences, has molded her into the person she is today.
- U of Illinois All-Time Assists Leader
- 4x All-Big Ten Selection
- u20 World Cup Champion
- 4th overall pick of the NWSL Draft
WHAT'S NEXT FOR VANESSA?
After having joined the National Women’s Soccer League during only its second year of operation, DiBernardo feels like she’s been a part of something special — seeing it grow throughout the years.
However, her next goal is to be a part of something even more special: winning a NWSL Championship with the Chicago Red Stars.
When asked about her previous injuries, DiBernardo reveals how she was able to take a negative situation and use it to better herself.
She says, "I have experienced a few significant injuries at different points in my career, and each injury has brought a new challenge. I would say I have grown the most as a person and as a player while I’ve been injured. For me, the physical part wasn’t the hardest. It was the mental side."
A QUICK LOOK AT
VANESSA'S RECOVERY ROUTINE:
In regards to her athletic performance, Vanessa says, "As I’ve gotten older as an athlete, I’ve learned recovery is extremely important. Taking the time to recover and taking care of your body is a must! The Pulse helps me do just that — which is why I’ve decided to partner with PROCUSSION, a company that emphasizes the importance of recovery.
I’ve also learned that my body recovers the best by moving and rolling out.
I use the Pulse daily and it is a LIFE SAVER. It can get into the spots where I feel like I have a trigger point — then the vibration (with different adjustable levels according to the soreness) is great to help release muscles.”
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