Thursday March 13, 2014 | By:Matthew Ondesko, Community Papers of WNY Editor | Sports
NICHOLS TO OHIO STATE — Juliana Iafallo skates for Nichols School during her senior season. After a stellar four-year career, the Eden native will be playing at Ohio State starting next year. She recently signed her letter of intent during a ceremony held by the school.
Making the right choice for college can be a hard decision for anybody, let alone a student athlete.
Many factors come into play, including academics, playing time, coaches and whether or not the pick is an overall good fit.
However, for Nichols School’s Julianna Iafallo, the recruiting process was a pretty easy one. As soon as she visited The Ohio State University campus, Iafallo knew she was home.
“Ohio State was the first place I visited,” Iafallo said. “Ever since I first stepped on the campus I loved it. From the coach, to the team, the entire atmosphere of the campus, it was just the perfect fit for me.”
It has been a pretty interesting journey for the Eden native. She plays her hockey for the Buffalo Bisons travel team and Nichols School in North Buffalo. The commute is a long one, but worth it for Iafallo.
She said that the rigors of Nichols academics and the competition of the Canadian league the school plays in, drew her to the school. It should also help her be better prepared for the next level.
“Nichols has been a lot of help. It definitely preps you for college. They have certain courses they treat like college courses. It’s more of a class discussion than lecturing,” Iafallo said. “Nichols also plays more Canadian teams, because we are in the Canadian division.”
The next level is not something Iafallo is afraid of, either. She said she knows what it will take to succeed as a freshman next year at Ohio State. If she has any questions about what to expect, she has to look no further than her own home.
Iafallo is the second child to sign and play at the Division I level. Her brother Alex is a freshman, and the leading scorer at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
She said that being able to talk and lean on him can only help her, when stepping on the ice and competing next year.
“He was always my idol,” said Iafallo. “Everything that he did I wanted to do. I kind of copied his number. He always helps me out to this day with hockey and all my decisions. He is just a really good role model.”
Even with all of the knowledge her brother has bestowed upon her, Iafallo said she knows she still has some things to work on before hitting the ice in Columbus, next season.
“One of the major things [I need to work on] is speed,” she said. “I need to work on quickness, in general. I need to be tougher on the boards. And make sure I get the puck out [of the zone].”
With two kids playing at the highest level of college, Iafallo said that her parents couldn’t be happier.
“I think my parents like my decision a little better, because I’m a little closer than him,” she said, with a laugh. “The great thing is the league that I’m in I play all the teams out in Minnesota.
“So there might be a chance that he can come to some of my games and I can go to his,” she added.
The Buckeyes are getting an unselfish player in Iafallo. The Nichols product said that she uses her vision on the ice and does not mind setting up her teammates. But the biggest attribute she tries to bring to the ice is her leadership.
Quiet off the ice, Iafallo is a talker and a leader on it. She said she would rather not give up a score than score herself. She is a tenuous back checker that prides herself on hustling every single shift.
“My game is probably more play-making than anything,” she said. “I hate being scored on. I would rather not be scored on than score. I back check a lot. I just hate being scored on.”
Iafallo seems to have what it takes to succeed at the next level. With her determination not to fail, the sky is the limit for the future Buckeye.