Here’s another VOLLEYWOOD EXCLUSIVE!
In case you didn’t know, women’s club team Liu Jo Volley Modena withdrew from the Italian League due to financial problems. Reports say that the team could not afford to pay its players due to the sad fact that team sponsors failed to fulfill their promises. One of the major sponsors was reportedly a FAKE sponsor!
Players like Aguero, Alisha Glass, Simona Rinieri, Anjo Spasojevic, Christa Harmotto & Paola Croce were in complete shock when they heard the news that despite a good performance in the league, the team was shutting down. They fought until the very end but could only do so much.
It was a teary goodbye for everyone.
Here’s the video of the team playing their last match together last January 26th, 2013:
Christa Harmotto Speaks!
Volleywood had the chance to speak with the 2012 Olympic silver medalist for an exclusive interview.
First, we asked Christa to pick a theme song for her Modena experience and this is the song:
Now, the interview:
VW: So what really happened? From day 1 up to the very last match.
Christa: Well from what I’ve understood, we entered the season without a title sponsor. I believe that it started off as a small problem, and as time passed and passed..it grew into a bigger problem and then a disaster. I worked with this club for 2 years (this being my 3rd) and for two years, they did business well and things by the book. when they expressed there were financial problems back in the fall, I never had doubt or lack of trust that they wouldn’t figure it out. Now, I did not realize until a couple weeks ago how much trouble financially there was.
VW: From what we’ve heard, the players didn’t receive any pay. True or False?
Christa: False. We got paid once. A lot of people have asked us, why we didn’t leave earlier? Like in the fall. I think as players, when you are in a situation like, it is difficult to just pick up and leave. We trusted society, and the main reason no one wanted to leave is because we were a strong team and worked well together. You want to believe and hope for the best. They never wanted to “screw” us..that was never their intention.
VW: How did you and your team manage to keep on playing with all this mess?
Christa: Our coaching staff was full of energy and loved the game, so their personalities helped relax us under those conditions. We played for us (teammates and coaches). Looking back on the situation, those conditions actually brought us closer together and we were playing some of our best volleyball towards the end when the situation was at it’s worst. I thought the team had solid chemistry and just a great group of people to compete. In addition, the entire community was behind us. Fans were incredible. Through it all.
VW: How do you feel towards Modena’s management team? angry? bitter? furious?
Christa: When I think about the situation, the emotions that surface are disappointed and sad. However, I am choosing to take the good away from my experience in Modena. First and foremost, the relationships with all the incredible people I have met during my time there. Modena was my home away from home. As Americans we are forced to play outside of our country and comfort zones. I could not imagine a better experience with the Italian culture and how they just brought me in as part of their family. I loved Modena, and will always love it. Sure, my experience ended poorly, but that doesn’t effect all the amazing people or how much my game has improved by playing in that league for that city.
VW: What’s the most valuable lesson you.ve learned from this experience?
Christa: Oh I learned a whole lot of lessons this season …I think the biggest thing is that it taught me to look into things and make sure people are crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s.
VW: T’s & I’s?
Christa: It’s a saying my dad always says. Cross your T’s and Dot your I’s…means to check into things before your commit or sign something.
VW: Message to your teammates?
Christa: Our season was cut short. We had potential to do great things, but it didn’t go our way. I am so proud to be a part of this team and wouldn’t have wanted to stand beside and fight for anyone else. I am so grateful for the friendships and experiences from this year. I choose to remember the good times and all of your smiling faces. May God Bless all of you as you move forward to the next adventure.
VW: Your message to the fans of Modena?
Christa: We could not have fought those last fights without you. Your support gave us strength and reminded us why we play this game. I cannot thank you all enough for standing beside us for 3 years. I hope that Modena will eventually find a way to bring in another team one day so they can experience the amazing support that you all showed us.
VW: What’s next for Christa Harmotto?
Christa: I need to take care of this shoulder business first and put it to rest. The Plan is to head back out to California and rehabilitate it.
VW: If you can share a valuable tip for those who aspire to play professional volleyball, what would it be?
Christa: Don’t let stories like what happened with my team scare or prevent you from playing pro. Things happen and there are always lessons learned. I think it all depends on the person when choosing a team. Think about what your priorities are. If you don’t plan to play very long, maybe look into making big money fast. If you are someone who prioritizes living conditions and lifestyle, Italy, in my opinion is one of the best when it comes to quality of life. Playing the sport you love overseas is pretty awesome, but truly think about what is important to you, because remember you will be living in another country for 8 months.
VW: Fill in the blank, Christa Harmotto is …
Christa: Full of energy.
VW: On a side note, who do u u think will win the Italian league?
Christa: Tough one. Haha! I have friends on too many teams.
VW: Pick 3?
Christa: Piacenza, Bergamo, or Busto.
VW: Thank you so much Christa!
Christa: You’re welcome.
Side Dish: While Christa has not committed to a new team after leaving Modena, some of her teammates have moved on. Spasojevic will play in Russia & Alisha Glass in Puerto Rico. Simona Rinieri is currently playing for an A2 team in the Italian League while Paggi joins Soverato, Natalia Brussa in Bologna and Croce commits to Urbino.