BLACKSBURG, Va. – One Virginia Tech professor is balancing life in the classroom with her competitive side on the field.
Stella Volpe, 59, is a professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise at Virginia Tech.
In early October, Volpe will compete in Cape Town, South Africa for the USA Masters Women’s National Field Hockey team.
From a young age, Volpe had a passion for competitive sports. She participated in gymnastics, then softball, volleyball, lacrosse, track, and field hockey.
Volpe says she often had a fun competition with her siblings growing up.
“As the youngest of four, we messed around, played, and were always trying to be better than each other — in a good way,” said Volpe.
In ninth grade, Volpe started her field hockey career, going on to play for her college team at the University of Pittsburgh. She also coached while earning her graduate degree at Virginia Tech and refereed at the college and high school levels.
Volpe took the plunge and tried out for the USA team first in 2018, and again in 2022. She made the team both times.
She now balances her work as a professor with training for the big event.
“I work long hours and sometimes very late into the night and into the morning to make sure that my work gets done,” Volpe said. “Some of my staff will notice that they get 3 a.m. emails. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make, but it is a balance.”
Volpe says she keeps up with stick work by training on her own and sometimes has Zoom practices with her teammates. She does CrossFit five to six times a week in order to keep up with the intensity that field hockey presents.
Prior to a game, Volpe says she has to get in the right frame of mind. To do that, she plays her favorite pre-game “pump up” song — “Call Me Maybe.”
The World Cup is an event that allows players across the globe to come together and compete for their country in a sport they love.
“There is this great feeling of camaraderie and knowing that we are fortunate to be able to compete at a high level,” Volpe said. “There is also a great feeling with all these countries getting together to play in the World Cup — we all are representing our own countries, yet collectively, we all are representing the world!”