Bozzi Brings Defensive Intensity to the Hornets
Junior Gianna Bozzi is a relentless defender who plays with tremendous intensity for the Branford field hockey team. (Photo courtesy of Gianna Bozzi)
It took some convincing for Gianna Bozzi to pick up a stick and start playing field hockey. However, once she did, Gianna realized how much she enjoyed the sport and has gone on to become a defensive stalwart for the Branford field hockey squad.
Gianna recently completed her junior season as a defender with the Hornets. Gianna and her team turned in a solid season that saw Branford notch 12 victories, while earning berths in both the SCC Tournament and the Class M State Tournament.
As Gianna headed into her 6th-grade year, Pete Frye, who was head coach of field hockey at Walsh Intermediate School at the time, tried to encourage her to come out for the team. While Gianna wasn’t interested at first, her mother Joy decided to sign her up.
Gianna’s reluctance didn’t last long as, after having participated in gymnastics lacrosse and gymnastics for eight years, field hockey quickly became her sport of choice.
“I’ve never been one to try new things. I kind of had to be put into it. But once I went to the tryouts, I loved it,” says Gianna. “It was pretty easy for me to pick up. I felt good playing right at the start. It became my main sport.”
Gianna played field hockey at Walsh from 6th to 8th grade with Frye coaching her during those first two seasons. When Gianna reached high school, Frye had become head coach of the Hornets.
As she made her transition, Gianna found that having Coach Frye around made the leap to the high school ranks that much easier.
Gianna saw varsity playing time during her freshman season. While she wasn’t a starter, Gianna still had ample opportunities to contribute for the varsity squad. Gianna liked the fact that she was immediately involved and went about putting in a great effort from day one.
“It was definitely different from middle school. We went hard off the bat,” Gianna says. “Since Pete was my coach, he knew I could be a varsity player. He pushed me. I just went right into it.”
By her sophomore year, Gianna had become a varsity starter for Branford field hockey team, playing a defensive midfielder position. This year, Gianna moved from the midfield to become a full-time defender as a junior, serving as the last player in front of senior captain goalie Nina Shamas.
Gianna feels that her game sense helps her excel on defense. Gianna always makes sure that she’s communicating with her fellow Hornets from the back end.
“It’s a lot about game sense and scanning the field for everyone else in front of you. Me and the goalie give the most direction on the field,” says Gianna. “We can see the whole field. We know what the best pass option is. We can see the other team’s moves before the offensive players.”
With a change in position came a change of mentality for Gianna. While she took things a little lightly as a sophomore, Gianna started to take field hockey more seriously heading into her junior campaign. Gianna put in the work during the offseason and did everything she could to become a leader on defense.
“I worked really hard this offseason. It was a big change from going into my sophomore year. I didn’t put in as much work. You could tell there was a big difference with me on the field,” Gianna says. “I was more defensive, which came with a lot of responsibility and leadership. I’ve been playing for a good amount of years and have a good game sense. I led the defense more than I did last year.”
Gianna’s increase in effort didn’t go unnoticed by Coach Frye, who has coached the junior defender for five seasons between the middle school and high school teams. Frye calls Gianna the “captain of the defense” for Branford and says that the Hornets use her defensive intensity as motivation to play their best.
“Gianna is a natural leader. She is so competitive that other players feed off of her intensity during games,” says Frye. “There are certain players that instinctively know who is the most dangerous opposing player when things start to get crowded and messy during a game. It’s a rare trait in a player, and Gianna has it.”
As she looks ahead to her senior season, Gianna’s goals are for the Hornets to continue working together and defeat perennial SCC powerhouses like Guilford. Gianna and her teammates have been playing together for a while now, and their chemistry has strengthened as a result.
Gianna’s younger sister Julia, a sophomore, is looking to become Branford’s starting goalie next year, and Gianna feels excited about the prospect of working alongside her sister on defense.
After initially being uncertain if she wanted to try field hockey, Gianna has gotten so much from playing the sport and still has one year of high school to go. Gianna loves working toward a unified goal in tandem with her Branford teammates.
“Field hockey in Branford has a really big legacy with a long line of past players who are still involved. I’m very proud to be playing with them,” Gianna says. “This team is my family. It’s a good, strong, and motivated group of girls. I love being a part of it.”