Being a student athlete in college is a commitment that requires a prominent level of time management and work ethic. Mixing a sport with the workload of a college student is a tall task, so one can only imagine what it must be like to add a second sport onto such a demanding schedule.
Sophomore outfielder Danni Napoli of Geneseo softball is one of the school’s few two-sport athletes. After winning a SUNYAC Championship with women’s field hockey in 2016, Napoli is leading the softball team in slugging percentage, runs batted in, doubles and walks. She is also batting .404 on the season, which is good for her second year on the team.
A native of Wading River, New York, Napoli played several sports growing up. She eventually settled on field hockey and softball while attending Riverhead High School. As a child, she said that sports were a huge part of her life, and she was inspired by her father and older brothers.
“I grew up with two older brothers and they both played sports. I always wanted to play with them. I would beg my dad to take me to my brothers’ baseball practices,” she said. “He always tells me this story that he left me home once and I cried the whole time, so he never left me home again.”
Napoli’s relationship with her brothers motivated her when it came to sports. Both college athletes, they taught her what it takes to be successful as an athlete.
“My brother Mike played baseball and had the best work ethic ever,” she said. “My other brother played football and still makes me come to the gym with him to this day.”
Along the way, Napoli learned the importance of taking things one day at a time, a trait that especially comes in handy as a two-sport athlete.
“I think it’s really important to take every single minute as its own and if something doesn’t go right, to bounce right back and do the best you can the next time without getting down on yourself,” she said.
Sports are not the only important thing, however, in Napoli’s life. Now a mathematics major, academics played a significant role in her decision to come to Geneseo.
“I knew for sure I wanted to major in math, so I wanted to go somewhere that had a good math program,” she said. “Then I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to play field hockey or softball, but Geneseo was a place that would let me have it all.”
After contacting both softball head coach David Sylvester and field hockey head coach Jess Seren to express her interest, Napoli was assured that she would have the opportunity to play both sports. While that opportunity is rewarding, it is not always easy to transition between seasons—when there is not enough time to attend all practices for both teams, according to Napoli.
With one SUNYAC title under her belt in field hockey, she is currently focused on winning another with softball. The team currently has a 14-6 record on the season, and Napoli believes that the team has the chemistry to accomplish that goal.
“I always say it would be the best year of my life if I could win two SUNYAC tournaments,” she said. “This is one of the best groups of people I’ve been around. We have great chemistry and then when the softball part comes in, it makes it that much better.”
Napoli hopes to become an actuary after graduation. She claims that she is often made fun of for not liking chocolate, and her favorite athletes are baseball players Mike Trout, Derek Jeter and Bryce Harper.
Napoli and the rest of the Geneseo softball team are set to travel for doubleheaders against SUNY New Paltz on Friday April 14 and SUNY Oneonta on Saturday April 15.