Hibeh Dilzer lived in Rome for 20 years and left to come to the United States to come to college and ended up at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.
When one of her childhood friends from back in Italy contacted her about hosting her daughter as an exchange student, she didn't hesitate even though she already had a son and a daughter of high school age.
The exchange student turned out to be Berlin High School senior Giorgia Rossetto, who has been an amazing player for the Berlin Redcoats volleyball team this fall and helped the team to a 12-6 record.
Berlin's Bob Tarigo has been coaching the Redcoats for 30 years and he is not one to throw around compliments but this is what he had to say about Rossetto.
"She is the best overall player we have ever had. As good as she is, we have good players around her. They all have their roles and do them very well. She may not be the hardest hitter we've ever had or the best setter but she does everything at an above average level. Sometimes it looks effortless. I think she is just starting to find out how good she can be. She averages 40 or 50 attempts for kills a game. So I always ask her how her arm is and she always tells me it's fine. She is the ideal player and we are very fortunate to have her."
Hibeh and her husband Dan Dilzer decided to allow Rossetto to come to their house to live but went through the formal exchange student application process but it was more comforting for Rossetto's mother, Allesandra Cosma, to know where she was going to end up. Did they have any reservations?
"I didn’t worry at all for a couple of reasons," Hibeh Dilzer said. "I know my son and daughter and knew our family comfort level was going to be good and it would be a small chance it wouldn't work out. And I know her mom spoke highly of her and I was thrilled to get to see her and meet her. She spends a lot of time with the volleyball girls but also spends plenty of time with us."
Rossetto said she stopped playing volleyball in eighth grade because it became too competitive.
"At that point it became too competitive and more like a job," said the tall outside hitter. "We don't have school teams. The volleyball teams are more like club teams and they are very competitive so it made it not as fun. I have really enjoyed playing here. The level of competition is good but not too stressful. I really love volleyball so this has been fun."
When Dan Dilzer took her to the first BHS volleyball practice, Tarigo asked her about her background and she explained to him that she hadn't played since she was in eighth grade. He then jokingly asked her if she was any good. Her answer? "Yes I'm quite good," and she wasn't boasting.
"I told her guardian Dan that she would probably make the team because she was tall but I couldn't guarantee him anything and he was thankful that we would give her a look," Tarigo said of the tryout. "After she spiked a few balls my assistant coaches Nancy DeBlasio and my son Jeff (Tarigo) walked over and said, 'She's on the team.'"
Berlin is in Class M and ranked 10th. Tarigo said some of the top teams in Class M moved up to Class L and that might allow the Redcoats to advance far in the state tournament. "It's the luck of the draw," he added.
For right now, Rossetto is planning to return to Italy to complete her high school education. High school in Italy is five years. She has been contacted by several schools and a volleyball scholarship either this year or next year is not out of the question.
"My guidance counselor, Mrs. Ramirez, has been helping me look at colleges," Rossetto said. "I would consider going to college here but I miss my mother and family a lot."
Tarigo and the Redcoats are glad she's here for now. The future can wait because Berlin wants to keep playing this season and make this year be a memorable one.