Italy Visit Re-ignites Sani Post's Love of Soccer

Sept. 2, 2003

by Debbie Rosenfeld-Caparaz

BERKELEY, Calif. - All it took for Sani Post to rediscover her love of soccer was a semester in Italy and a 180-mile walk to Rome.

The senior goalkeeper on the Cal women's soccer team had played the sport at its highest levels for many years, but she considered giving it up because it wasn't fun anymore. Now, with a European venture behind her, she looks forward to her final season as a Golden Bear.

Post originally enrolled at Notre Dame in 1999 with an array of youth national team credentials. But after spending two years in South Bend, Ind., she felt she didn't fit in at the school or in the Midwest and opted to transfer to Cal to be closer to her hometown of Davis.

Post was happy to return to the West Coast, although she couldn't play for Cal in 2001 due to a shoulder injury. Following her second shoulder surgery, she decided she needed to explore other interests and evaluate her soccer future.

'I had always wanted to go abroad,' said Post, who will graduate from Cal in May as an ethnic studies major. 'I'd been to Europe, however, not for an extended period of time or without soccer. I went into the Cal soccer office and told (head coach)Kevin Boyd that this is what I was going to do, and he supported it.'

Post missed the 2002 spring workouts while she attended the University for Foreigners in Sienna, Italy, in the heart of Tuscany. A lover of art, culture andlanguage, Post was in her element.

Every weekend of her stay, she visited different regions of the country or made excursions to Switzerland and England. While Post was excited to see famous historical spots, such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Sistine Chapel, she wanted to experience the country on a more intimate level.

So with limited money and time remaining to travel, Post and friend, Sonia Shlyakhov, loaded up their backpacks and spent two weeks walking 180 miles from Sienna to Rome. They roughly followed the Via Francigena as the pilgrims had done many years ago during their journeys to see the Pope.

'It was spur of the moment,' said Post. 'We thought up the idea and said, 'Let's try it, and see where it gets us.' We walked along the gorgeous countryside, went along roads and backcountry, and got directions from anyone who would talk to us.'

Post found the countryside, which she thought only existed in fairytales, enchanting and the local hospitality amazing.

'On the first night, a family found us and gave us dinner, a place to sleep, breakfast in the morning and directions to our next destination,' said Post, whose father once hitch-hiked across the United States. 'That's how it was until we arrived in Rome.'

After being away from soccer and out of the national team picture, Post returned to Berkeley inthe fall of 2002 with a new perspective on life and eager to suit up for her first season at Cal. She earned the starting nod in 14 games, posting a 0.94 goals-against average, recording wins over No. 3 Santa Clara, No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 7 Wake Forest.

'Coming to Cal, I didn't know what to expect, but I hoped it would be better than Notre Dame,' said Post, a 2002 first team Academic All-Pac-10 selection. 'It turned out to be much better because I fit in. Kevin (Boyd) and J.T. (Jennifer Thomas, assistant coach) took me in and listened to everything I needed to say and have worked with me to make my experience a good one.'

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