Annie Mitchem said that having fun is key to bringing out her best performances after she agreed to join Zanetti Bergamo in Serie A1 for the 2019-20 season.
The 25-year-old spiker will arrive in Bergamo after spending last season at Savino del Bene Scandicci, where she struggled to fulfil the potential she showed in the previous year when she was one of Pallavolo Filottrano’s most potent attacking threats.
Texas-born Mitchem has long been touted as one of America’s most promising players, ever since she became Irvine Valley College’s first ever state athlete of the year back in 2015.
She will be a central part of Stefano Micoli’s plans to revive Bergamo’s fortunes after a frustrating campaign that saw them finish ninth in the final standings, six places behind Mitchem’s Scandicci.
“I’m so excited to start a new adventure in Bergamo and at a club that has a great history in the Italian Championship,” Mitchem told the club’s official website.
“I have a feeling that it is the best thing for me to be part of a great club like this. I want to know more about the environment, learn more about Zanetti and feel part of the group.
“I’ve had two very different experiences so far. In Filottrano, in a super small city, we fought for survival. In Scandicci it was super nice to be able to live in Florence and play there to gain high-ranking results.”
Climbing the ranks
Mitchem, who stands at 6’3″ and majored in sociology at Irvine Valley, was coached by former Hawaii men’s volleyball All-American Tom Pestolesi as a young player, and her talent was never in doubt.
She was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s College National Player of the Year in 2013 and 2014, and has featured in the U.S. Red-Blue intrasquad scrimmage as she looks to break into the Team USA roster.
Mitchem, who can play as a middle hitter or on the left side, said she will be focussed on enjoying every moment with her new team and underlined the importance of light-hearted moments while on the court.
“I don’t speak fluent Italian yet, but I will study a lot this summer,” she said.
“I like to have fun on the court because it helps me give my best. I believe that having fun and laughing is important to have a good performance in the game.
“I love the feeling of being part of a team, of fighting together for a goal and above all it makes me feel the privilege of doing a job that is also my sport. It makes it special and it’s nice to do something you love to do.
“This summer I’ll be San Diego, California, with my boyfriend: lots of beach volleyball every day and good fun!” she added. “I can’t wait to come to Bergamo!”