Written by: Shane Thomas
Jessica Caraponale Codato arrives at Valdosta State from Division I Winthrop University in search of a home away from home.
VSU represents a fresh start for the transfer, who already feels comfortable in her new surroundings.
“Everybody is so nice,” Codato said smiling. “I feel really welcomed here. I talk to Coach Swan a lot and I felt a really good vibe and energy from him and my teammates.”
“That family environment was something that I really didn’t have at Winthrop and I needed that being away from home.”
A native of São Paulo, Brazil, the 5-foot-10 junior strengthens the Blazers’ attack at the setter position.
“As a setter, every ball comes into my hands,” Codato said. “I have to bring leadership and use my experience in favor of the group—it’s all about the team.”
New Blazers head volleyball coach Mike Swan expects Codato to challenge junior setter Ashley Lala, who was recently named to the Preseason All-Gulf South Conference team.
“Having those two players at that position is great,” Swan said. “It gives us the liberty of running a 5-1 [set] which has one setter or a 6-2 with both. Ashley knows that she has to step her game up now and I think it’s a win-win situation for everybody when that happens.”
Codato is eager to compete with Lala and welcomes the idea of playing together occasionally.
“[Lala] is awesome,” Codato said. “If you have a lot of people that are good, it doesn’t matter what position you play. We’re competing, but at the same time, we’re
competing together for the same goal.”
Swan values Codato’s leadership and experience as the season approaches.
“[Codato] has played Division I volleyball at the highest level,” Swan said. “She has the qualities we’re looking for—somebody who is going to work hard on the court, be a good student, and make this program better.”
Codato brings a decorated résumé in international play to the Blazers, having won five consecutive State championships from 2007 to 2011 while playing for club team Finasa Osasco/Bradesco Esportes e Educao in her native Brazil.
In 2008 and 2009, Codato led her All-State team to national championships and was named Best Setter in the Under-19 State Tournament.
“[Championship experience] is huge, especially for a setter,” Swan said. “Any time we can get an international student-athlete who has played at that level, it’s just going to challenge everybody on the court.”
“She’s going to blend really well with the team we have right now.”
Codato, a business major who enjoys watching movies and playing guitar in her spare time, hopes to lead the Blazers to success this season.
“I am trying to bring my best, every practice and every game,” Codato said. “I just want to make a difference and have the team with me and make a really strong group to win conference and hopefully the nationals.