Rachel Iaquaniello, number six, is a senior outside hitter on Eastern Michigan University women’s volleyball team. She has “always” played volleyball, but used to be a multi-sport athlete.
“I’ve played volleyball forever, but I used to be really into basketball,” Iaquaniello said. “I played up until my sophomore year
of high school, at which point they had switched the girls’ basketball and volleyball seasons in Michigan. If I kept up my commitment to basketball, I would have had to give up volleyball because of the travel season and I pretty much decided then that I really love volleyball too much.”
Iaquaniello said she also ran track all four years of high school.
“I was really competitive with running. I ran the 3200-meter relay, mile, 800-meter and 2 mile.”
Off the court, she still enjoys running from time to time.
“Whenever I’m feeling a little down or like something is bothering me and I can’t quite put my finger on it, a run always makes me feel better. I also like to read and shop,” she said.
Iquaniello also said she’s an avid reader.
“I pretty much read anything, especially if it’s a recommendation by my teammates or roommates,” she said. “I’ve read the typical sagas like ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Twilight’ and ‘The Hunger Games.’ My favorite book though is probably ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife.’ When Borders closed their stores, I went to get a bunch of discounted books, so I’m chipping away at the books on my shelf one by one.”
Iaquaneillo is also an avid beach volleyball fan.
“I don’t really like to watch professional sports on TV, but sand volleyball is always really exciting, especially if you’re watching any of the big tours or the Olympics this past summer,” she said.
There are a couple of athletes that she said are her favorites, and she really admires international track start Steve Prefontaine because of his philosophy, work ethic and how he was an inspirational figure. Her current favorite is Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh.
Science is Iaquaniello’s strong subject. She is an exercise science major and hopes to be a physical therapist after she graduates from EMU. Her favorite science class has been electrocardiography, but she also had fun in chemistry. This was partly because it was extremely interesting and partly because she was able to mix chemicals with her teammate Kim Hildreth.
“I want to go to physical therapy school. I actually just sent it a couple applications about a month ago,” Iquaneillo said.
Her determination to succeed has been largely because of her sister.
“My biggest role model has always been my sister, Maria. She puts so much energy into everything she does. She is always focused and driven, and she is such a positive and caring person that you feel really good when she’s around. I’ve always looked up to her, and she’s my best friend,” Iaquaniello said.
The volleyball star has also been nominated for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which goes to student-athletes who demonstrate excellence in four different areas: community, classroom, character and competition. Iaquaniello is the only volleyball player in the state who was nominated for the award this year.
“I am honored to be nominated for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, mostly because it looks beyond volleyball and takes into consideration what players do to help others,” she said. “The other thing I feel really good about is breaking the record for career attempts and kills, because I really love to hit the ball and it makes me feel good that my team trusts me enough to let me swing so much.”
Iaquaniello will graduate in the spring and said she will take away many things from her time here at EMU.
“Probably the biggest thing I will take away is the supportive relationships I have made here,” she said. “This time at Eastern has meant the world to me. It has everything to do with the people here and the experiences I’ve had. My roommates and teammates are honestly my best friends. I have learned so much about who I am and have had the time and support for personal growth. My sport and my major have challenged me, and the crazy thing is that I feel like I have so much more to learn. I wish I had a thousand more years of time, and it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.”