Top soccer, basketball recruit will try for rare double duty in Canada West next season

Calgary's Sofia DiGiacomo is a high-performance athlete in both soccer, left, and basketball. She has committed to play both sports at MacEwan, starting in the 2019-20 season.
Calgary's Sofia DiGiacomo is a high-performance athlete in both soccer, left, and basketball. She has committed to play both sports at MacEwan, starting in the 2019-20 season.

Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – The cross-over skill-set between soccer and basketball is tangible.

It takes a similar athletic prowess to compete for rebounds and headers, for example.

It's a rare day, however, when someone is talented enough (and has enough time in a day) to play both sports at the Canada West level.

MacEwan University is fortunate to have landed a Calgarian who plans to do just that. Sofia DiGiacomo has committed to both the Griffins women's soccer and women's basketball programs, starting in the 2019-20 season, head coaches Dean Cordeiro and Katherine Adams announced on Friday.

"Sofia's a special talent," said Cordeiro, who leads the Griffins women's soccer squad. "It's definitely a balancing act, requiring some really good time management skills, but Sofia's got that X-factor, if you will, where she can balance both sports because she's been doing it for a long time now."

The 5-foot-10 midfielder/power forward has been involved in high performance programs in both sports (REX in soccer and TAS in basketball), which means she's on the radar for provincial (and national) team selections in soccer and basketball.

"It speaks to her character and commitment to even want to attempt to do both," said Adams, who coaches MacEwan's women's basketball team. "It's certainly not common for student-athletes to not only want to do it but have the skill-set and abilities to do it.

"It will come with its challenges, for sure, and it's something we're definitely aware of – balancing and managing her workload."

On the soccer pitch, DiGiacomo is a game-changer for the Griffins, bringing height and physicality to midfield that will lead to winning more contested headers, as well as giving MacEwan an intriguing new option on set pieces.

"She's exactly what we need in our midfield – a dominant force in the air," said Cordeiro. "We've been on the smallish side these past few years in terms of being able to win balls and she's going to drastically change the complexion of what we can do on set pieces and be a bit more dominant in that regard."

Sofia DiGiacomo is expected to be a difference-maker for the Griffins in midfield on the pitch and as a power forward on the hardcourt.

DiGiacomo has been on the Calgary Blizzard SC since 2012, learning under former Griffins goalkeeper coach Diogo Raposo. She will join four other Blizzard teammates at MacEwan in 2019. Beyond her ability in the air, her footwork is exceptional, too.

"A lot of times, ball winners get labelled as 'that's all they can do', but Sofia's quite the opposite with her technical ability," said Cordeiro. "When the ball's at her feet, she's magical in how she sees the game and in her decision-making abilities – how much she can create for other people.

"She can spray a ball over the park, but she's got the ability to score goals from 30-40 yards out with the cannon of a shot she's got, as well. Again, a very special talent that we're very excited to bring into the program."

On the court, DiGiacomo will be a unique talent for the Griffins, too – someone who fits what Adams is trying to do in terms of a hard-working, gritty team, but who has the size to do that out of the 4 spot. She has played basketball for Bishop Carroll's senior team throughout her high school career so far.

"We don't have anyone like her on our roster," said Adams. "She's just a strong, tough, gritty good athlete and a good rebounder.

"The culture around how we're trying to build our team – tough, gritty, willing to get in and mix it up a little bit – she brings all those characteristics with some size and athleticism in a position where we're really lacking depth at the moment," she added. "We look forward to her bringing that to the table. Being a multi-sport athlete, she's going to enhance our ability to play an up-tempo game and defend tough."

All that's left to figure out is how she co-exists within the training requirements of both teams.

"She's just going to have to find the right amount of hours to be true to both crafts, but I think there's a way to figure out what's best for her, so she's not overtraining but she's still being sharp in both sports," said Cordeiro.

"You have an athlete who's exceptional at both sports, so let's try to find a way to support that and have her do that. Who knows? Maybe it will put the groundwork in place to maybe have more two-sport athletes in the future."