Favorite athlete: Odell Beckham Jr
Favorite team: The Giants and Mets
Favorite memory competing in sports: Winning the state championship tournament with all of my friends on the team when we were 12.
Funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Last year at practice we all were pretending like it was a normal practice, and once my coach said a certain thing, we all dropped except for the two people that didn’t know what was happening. One of them followed what the rest of us were doing while the other one stood there very confused.
Music on mobile device: Rap
Future plans: To go to college and become a news anchor and a model.
Words to live by: “Storms don’t last forever”
One goal before turning 30: To be on Good Morning America
One thing people don’t know about me: I can tumble
By Mary Jane Souder
Angelia Micalizzi is undeniably passionate about softball, but the Bensalem senior doesn’t rattle off the usual clichés when she talks about a sport that has helped define her.
“Softball keeps me sane, it keeps me together,” Micalizzi said. “It’s somewhere that you can never feel alone. You’re always with people.
“It’s something that’s in my heart, it’s in my blood, it’s in my family – it’s a part of me. A random Sunday, my dad will say, ‘Hey, Ang,’ let’s go have a catch.’ It’s a place where I can feel absolutely nothing except the game.
If it sounds as though Micalizzi might eat, breathe and sleep softball, guess again.
“I played travel the fall of my sophomore year but not much after that,” she said. “I’m strictly school ball.”
In an era where playing a sport year round is considered all but a requirement in order to succeed, Micalizzi’s story is unique.
“This is a kid who does not play travel ball but is our starting catcher,” Bensalem coach Dan Schram said. “She’s vice president of the senior class, she’s a tremendous student and involved in every activity.
“Softball has become so much of a niche sport, and this kid defies the niche and stays well rounded. She’s naturally athletic enough and hard working enough to be able to do it. Not everybody is able to do what she does.”
Not everybody loves their sport as much as Micalizzi. Not even those who devote 12 months a year to it.
“There’s so much to love about softball – the team, the coaches, the experience, everything about it,” she said. “It’s what makes me me.
“It’s the whole team experience, it’s what makes high school a hundred times better than it already is. It’s like the icing on top of the cake.”
While there’s no mistaking Micalizzi’s love for the game, her journey hasn’t always been an easy one.
“Softball, for me growing up, was very hard,” she said. “I was never the best player.”
Micalizzi, it turns out, struggled mightily with the not-so-little matter of hitting.
“I was a good team player, but I was never able to hit growing up,” she said. “I would try and I would try, but I was never there. It was very, very frustrating.
“Every time I would get up to bat I’d be shaking. In my head, I’d always tell myself, ‘Here we go again, it’s another strikeout, it’s another groundout.’”
She admits the thought of quitting crossed her mind.
“I didn’t think I was good enough to keep going, but you have to keep trying,” Micalizzi said. “You have to push yourself to the next level, you always want to conquer your fears and go after everything you could possibly do in your life. You never want regrets.
“For me, it was like, ‘Yeah, there’s this side of me that feels like I’m not good enough,’ but when you keep trying and you keep practicing, you get better. It’s always the work you do in the dark that shines brightest in the light as my coach would say before every game and every practice. At your lowest point, you just have to pick yourself up and get back on the field.
“That’s how it was for me. There were times I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t.”
Eventually, the hitting part of the game came together for Micalizzi.
“It’s all about your mindset,” she said. “If you go in there thinking you’re going to strike out, you’re going to have a negative outcome.
“For me, once I started getting the bat on the ball, it was always in my head, ‘Ang, you’re going to get better. Ang, you’re going to hit the ball.’ It wasn’t just the connection of the ball to the bat, it was in my head. It was me telling myself that I’m able to do this.”
The transformation didn’t happen overnight for Micalizzi, who – after playing swing as a freshman – found herself starting at second base for the varsity the following year.
“I was starting at a brand new position, and I still couldn’t produce anything, I still couldn’t hit,” said Micalizzi, who had always been a catcher.
She suffered another setback when – 10 games into the season – she had surgery and was forced to watch the remaining games from the bench.
“She was doing a great job, so losing her was a tremendous hardship to overcome, but she came to every game and every practice and really showed she could pass the test of character,” Schram said.
It would have been easy for Micalizzi to call it a career, but instead, the time on the sidelines turned out to be a blessing in disguise
“Having that time to just sit down and watch and engage and learn and be there with your team just cheering them on – it gave me the extra push to go the extra mile, to work harder, to go after it because I believed I could do it,” Micalizzi said. “It was just that drive – it made me want to go further and do more for my team. It was that surgery that really gave me the push to go after it. I couldn’t leave. I had to keep going. I had to be there for my team, I had to make everything work.”
To say everything worked might be an understatement. As a junior, Micalizzi was named the co-MVP for her Owls’ softball team. She hit over .380.
“In height, Angelia is not very tall, but she makes up for it in athleticism,” Schram said. “She’s physically strong. Many teams would say, ‘Bring the infield in,’ and she’d hit it over their heads and race around for a triple.”
Micalizzi’s junior season was an unqualified success on the diamond, but off it, she found herself living through the most difficult time of her young life when her father was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, throat and lymph nodes.
“I found out during a practice,” she said. “I just knew when I saw my brother’s face that (my dad) was diagnosed with cancer.
“I was about to leave practice. My team came over and they packed my stuff up for me, they gave me hugs, they were just all there for me.”
With just two games remaining in the season, Schram had t-shirts made that said, ‘Strong for the Mic’ as a show of support from Micalizzi’s softball family.
“I had no idea that my coach went ahead and made the shirts,” Micalizzi said. “I was blown away. It was the sweetest thing anyone could do. It was very much appreciated.
“During that hard time, that very hard season, it was something I was very grateful for. I was grateful to have my team there for me and my coaches there for me and my family, especially my dad, one of our biggest supporters. Every game he would always be there.”
Micalizzi’s father along with her entire family was in attendance at the game when the shirts were unveiled.
“The softball team helped my dad, lifted his spirits,” she said. “Nine long, hard months he fought, and he’s cancer free. He just got clear less than a month ago, and he got to ring the bell.”
Softball is just one small piece, albeit an important piece, of Micalizzi’s life. In addition to serving as vice president of her senior class, she is on the yearbook staff and is part of student government as well as Building Bridges.
Another passion of Micalizzi’s is her involvement with Owls Television Network (OTN).
“It’s a communications class,” she said. “Your first year you start out learning to believe in yourself, learning to go after all your goals, which also really pushed me for softball.
“We edit videos, we tape everything that goes on in the school. We do morning shows, so you’re in front of the camera and behind the camera.”
Micalizzi plans to pursue a communications major with the goal of one day becoming a news anchor. She has been accepted at Monmouth University and Florida International and is waiting to hear back from West Chester.
These days, Micalizzi is preparing for what she believes can be a very successful season for her Owls’ softball team.
“What excites me about this year moving forward – I have three amazing seniors, three seniors who have been through the mill and are excellent leaders,” Schram said of a trio that also includes Dani Sharpe and Allison Goodman. “These three kids are three of the finest seniors I’ve had in the program.”
Micalizzi is one of that special trio.
“This kid is all my reasons for coaching,” the Owls’ coach said. “She makes it worth doing it.”