September 2017

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123 Y ou could say field hockey's JoElla Guagliardo is comfortably uncomfortable as she enters her senior year at the University of Iowa. Guagliardo is a biology major working toward a career in dentistry. What she learned from her first three years on campus is a willingness to be excited living outside her comfort zone. "As scary as it is at first, it will help tremendously in the end," Guagliardo said Aug. 16 at an Iowa athletic all-staff meeting in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. "In field hockey, I have been fortunate enough to have coaches that have taught me this lesson and encouraged me to be better, no matter what difficult challenges lie ahead." e benefit of fighting through being uncomfortable has served Guagliardo in athletic and academic arenas. She recounted a preseason practice prior to her sophomore season when every Hawkeye participates in a fitness test. e goal is to sprint 100 yards in 20 seconds, turn around, and return to the starting line 40 seconds later. Twenty-five repetitions are required to complete the grueling drill. "By the end of the test, I was the last one running. I remember approaching the line at the 25th minute with my lungs and legs burning," Guagliardo said. "I was so happy I was going to pass, but most of all, be done. "at instant relief was gone when I heard (head coach) Lisa (Cellucci) yell from the 50-yard line, 'Jo, you're getting to 30.' So, I took a deep breath. I had never done more than 25. "If you asked me that moment, I probably would have said I was a little bit more than uncomfortable. But, I couldn't give up when faced with that challenge. As difficult as it was, I was able to push myself and complete it. at day I really learned a lesson about being uncomfortable." Guagliardo also pushed through when it came to joining extracurricular groups, even though a student-athlete's spare time is at a premium. Classes and field hockey requirements are demanding, but Guagliardo still became involved in ISAAC (Iowa Student Athlete Academic Committee), Hawkeye Health Care, and Fuel Up to Play 60. "ese programs have exposed me to new experiences, people, and ways of thinking," she said. rough Hawkeye Health Care, which Guagliardo calls one of the most influential experiences in her career development, she was paired with a pediatric dentist named Kecia Leary in the College of Dentistry. "She became my biggest ally on my journey toward dental school," Guagliardo said of Leary. "She allowed me to continue to shadow, even aer Hawkeye Health Care was completed. She wrote me a letter of recommendation for dental school, she helped me get a job in the College of Dentistry and even came out to field hockey to show her support. "If I had decided not to get involved, not to put more on my plate, not to be uncomfortable, then I never would have gotten the opportunity to meet one of the women who has been one of the biggest advocates in my life." Guagliardo is serving as a student assistant coach in 2017 aer playing in 43 games from 2014-16. She scored seven goals with one assist. Being a student-athlete at Iowa taught the native of Deerfield, Illinois, at least one valuable lesson. "Being uncomfortable isn't a bad thing, it is how we grow and learn what we can accomplish, whether it is on the field, in my career, or giving a speech in front of a room full of people — getting uncomfortable is inevitable," Guagliardo said. "I have found that embracing these opportunities that make you uncomfortable is what matters, because these are the ones that lead to success."

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