Athlete of the issue Q&A: Volleyball Star, Francesco Sani


Photo Courtesy of Francesco Sani

Senior Francesco Sani posing in his USA volleyball jersey.

Francesco Sani is a senior at WJ who stands 6 feet 8 inches tall, making him a towering figure in the hallways and on the volleyball court. Since 6th grade, Sani has devoted his time and effort to playing volleyball, which has garnered himself great success. From the beginning of his freshman year, Sani has been supporting and playing for the Walter Johnson boys’ volleyball team. His hard work eventually led to him making the US Youth Men’s National Team and competing with them in the Tunisian World Championships. The Pitch recently sat down with Sani for an interview about his ever-expanding volleyball career.

Q: How long have you been training/playing volleyball?

A:“I’ve been playing since sixth grade, so that’s a lot of time playing volleyball, I guess.”

Q: What made you choose volleyball as a sport?

A: “It was mostly my mom, she like forced me to go to tryouts, after I said no that I didn’t want to play at all. I was first a soccer player, and then she made me go to volleyball and I ended up loving it.”

Q: How did it feel to be coached by your own mother?

A: “It’s very interesting because she knows exactly what I need to work on every time and I’m definitely the player she goes hard on the most. So I definitely got the best coach I could ask for with my mom.”

Q: When your mother was coaching for your club team, do you believe she made a significant impact on you as a player?

A: “I think she did, because with her being the coach, I was allowed to go play with older teams even when I was younger. So that really helped me focus on my skills and improve my game.”

Q: What was the motivation for starting your YouTube channel?

A: “I started because I wanted to reach out to college coaches with videos about my volleyball skills and stuff. So everyone that reaches out to college coaches has to have a YouTube channel. So you can post your videos on there and send them the link.”

Q: You made the US Men’s youth national team and went to go compete in Tunisia. Could you describe the feeling you had representing the US at a volleyball match?

A: “It was crazy. A lot of guys on the team had already done it before but me and four other people were also first-timers. When you’re lined up on the court singing the national anthem and you first get the chills, but then when you’re actually playing it’s totally different and you get like super nervous and stuff. But good thing it’s a team sport so you have teammates to support you.”

Q: In your years of training, what do you feel prepared you the most for playing high skill, high-level volleyball like at the Tunisia World Championship?

A:“I think throughout my training years, I recently started lifting a lot, I think that definitely helped my endurance at the Tunisia World Championship. But also my mom coaching. I’ve always loved volleyball so much that with her help I was able to go to so many practices with older guys and stuff. I think playing as much as I played for and recent start of lifting. That really helped.”

Q: Do you believe you will continue volleyball beyond high school? Or beyond college maybe?

A: “Yeah. I’m already pursuing my volleyball career at UC Irvine in California as a D1 volleyball school. And then hopefully after that I can go pro.”

Q: What are your expectations for the boys volleyball team?

A: “We’ve won the past three state championships, so I’d say we can win a fourth.”

Q: And you’re definitely excited about that aren’t you?

A: “Yeah, I’m super excited. My little brother is on the team this year, he’s a freshman. We have our usual starters. We lost a couple seniors last year. And we have a lot of good freshmen coming in.”

Sani is a valued WJ athlete and stands as an inspiration for all those eager to improve and further their sports careers.