We The Italians | The Italian American stars in US sports: Women 2 of 2

The Italian American stars in US sports: Women 2 of 2

The Italian American stars in US sports: Women 2 of 2

  • WTI Magazine #102 Apr 14, 2018
  • 1487


Erin Cafaro (1983, Modesto, CA), NCAA rowing champion in 2005 and 2006. Gold medal with the 4 without (4-) of the U.S. team at the Under 23 World Championships in Amsterdam 2005. Always with the national team but 4 light, Erin won a gold at the 2006 World Cup in Munich. Cafaro also boasts 2 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing and 2004 London Olympics with the 8-arms with (8+). With Susan France in the couple 2, Erin received the FISA World Crew of the Year Award 2009.

Adrienne E. Martelli (1987, Glendale, CA) rowing 4-, bronze medal with the US team 4- at the London 2012 Olympics, Adrienne won two more medals at the World Championships, one silver in 2014 and one gold in 2015, again with the 4 -.

Tessa Gobbo (1990, Keene, NH) is a member of the US 8+ and 4- teams that won the gold medal in the 2013 and 2015 World Championships and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Tessa has a twin brother, Andre, and her parents are both university professors. She graduated from Brown.


Julia Mancuso (1984, Reno, NV) was, together with Lindsey Vonn, one of the most representative athletes of the U.S. national team in the disciplines of alpine skiing between 2000 and 2010. Her palmares speaks clearly: 6 gold medals (including the one in the giant slalom in Turin 2006), 4 silver and 5 bronze medals between the Olympics and the World Cup. And, last but not least, she collected 36 medals (16 of which are gold) in the U.S. championships.


Eleanor Garaffi (1909, San Francisco, CA) was world record in the 100 m. and 4x100 freestyle relay. In 1929 she set another world record in the 100 meters freestyle, becoming the first woman to swim under 1:10. Protagonist at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam (1 gold 1 silver) and at those of 1932 in Los Angeles (1 gold and 1 bronze).

Lynn Colella (1950, Seattle, WA), breaststroke and butterfly, raised in the Washington University team, represented the United States at the 1972 Olympics in Munich winning the silver medal in the 200 m butterfly. His brother Frank Colella was also a medalist at the Olympics.

Sheila C. Taormina (1969, Livonia, MI) was a swimmer and a world-class athlete in triathlon and pentathlon. In swimming, after being a rising star at college level, Sheila won gold in the relay 4x200m freestyle at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She was later world champion in the 2004 elite triathlon in Funchal.

Mary E. DeScenza (1984, Middlesex, NJ), married Mohler, began famous  at the Foro Italico in Rome when, in a 200m women's butterfly competition, with a surprising finale, she set the new world limit. After a very good career at NCAA level (2003-2006) she also joined the US national team. The following is a list of awards and titles: American Record Holder - 200m Butterfly SC; 2008 World Champion - 200m Butterfly SC; American Record Holder - 200 yard Butterfly; 2008 5-Time U.S. National Champion; 2006 U.S. Open Triple Gold Medalist & High Point Champion.

Madeline "Maya" DiRado (1993, San Francisco, CA) grew up athletically at Stanford (she won 2 NCAA titles and was named Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year), where she graduated in engineering. After winning other medals at the 2014 Pan Pacific and the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, she won the 2016 Trials where she qualified in the 200m and 400m medley and 200m backstroke. At the Olympics in Rio 2016 she won the gold medal with the relay 4x200m freestyle, another gold in the 200m backstroke, a silver in the 400m medley and a bronze in the 200m medley. Her father Ruber was born in Argentina and is the son of a couple of Italians who emigrated.


Hope Amelia Solo (1981, Richland, WA), daughter of a Vietnam veteran of Italian origin. Goalkeeper with an unbeatable clean sheet of 1054 minutes with the U.S. national team. A strong character often at the center of controversy of various kinds. Hope has a fantastic palmares: with the U.S. team 2 Olympic gold medals in Beijing 2008 and London 2012, 1 gold 1 silver medal and 1 bronze medal at the World Cups of 2015, 2011 and 2007, CONCACAF Cup 2006; 3 national titles with clubs; 2009 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year; Adidas Ro 2011 Glove of Game.


Michelle Venturella (1973, Gary, IN) is a softball player who has won national attention with the Indiana Hoosiers in the NCAA; with the USA team she won the gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. She is currently head coach at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.


Mary Carillo (1957, New York, NY), former professional tennis player (on the WTA circuit from 1077 to 1980, she retired due to a knee injury), became a journalist for the NBC network. John McEnroe's childhood friend, she won the French Open with him and reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in the mixed doubles.

Jennifer Capriati (1976, New York, NY), Stefano's daughter born in Brindisi, Puglia, early athlete (she became a professional at the age of 13), 14 WTA titles, number 1 in the world in 2001, 3 Fed Cup with the USA team, gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. A complicated relationship with her father and, later, some problems with the justice system have to some extent obscured her career.

Track & Field

Abbey D'Agostino (1992. Topsfield, MA) during her college years became the athlete with the most victories in the Ivy League in track & field and cross country. During the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, she had her name in the paper for a racing accident involving an athlete from New Zealand, who also suffered a serious injury to her ligaments, and was awarded the Fair Play 2016 prize.

Jenna Prandini (1992, Clovis, CA), NCAA champion in the 100m, sprinter and long jumper, won the bronze at the World Championships in Beijing 2015 in the relay 4 x 100m. Personal records: 10.92 on 100 m.; 22.20 on 200 m.; 6.80 m. in the long jump.