Like many senior female athletes in Stamford, Gloria Mattioli dropped in her application for the Allyson Rioux Memorial Award and waited.
Mattioli believed she was qualified, but with what she felt were so many deserving athletes in the city, she kept her hopes high but her expectations reasonable.
Then the call came, and before the words were even out of the mouth of the person on the other end, Mattioli was in tears.
The news being delivered was that Mattioli had in fact been named as the 2018 recipient of the Allyson Rioux Memorial Award.
She was a two-sport athlete at Stamford High, excelling in volleyball and softball.
Mattoli was a three-year varsity starter for volleyball, where she was part of a state championship, and a four-year varsity starter for softball.
She also volunteers her time working closely with the Unified Sports program at Stamford.
As a girl growing up playing sports in Stamford, it is the honor of a lifetime for Mattioli.
“I waited for three weeks after I sent in my letter and then I got a call saying I had won. I started crying on the phone, I couldn’t believe I got it. I was shocked,” Mattioli said. “I am friends with other girls who applied and I know other really good athletes applied. There are so many people who could get this award and I am so honored to get it.”
Mattioli said she became aware of Rioux during her time in youth basketball in the city.
“I played basketball until freshman year and playing in the youth league, we had the Allyson Rioux Award and I learned about who she was and what she meant to girls sports in Stamford,” Mattioli said. “I always wished I could win this award and I worked very hard for so long and it means so much to me.”
This is the 29th year of the $5,000 Allyson Rioux Memorial Award given to a senior female athlete in the Stamford Schools.
Allyson Rioux was a standout softball player from Stamford who died in 1989 from an inoperable brain tumor.
The memorial award was established in Rioux’s memory to annually recognize someone who has proven herself to be an athlete of exceptional ability, determination, courage and an unselfish devotion to her teammates.
Cheryl Tiscia, the president of the Allyson Rioux Memorial Foundation and Rioux’s sister, said Mattioli represents the qualities beyond athleticism that made her sister unique.
“Everyone we spoke with reiterated how Gloria puts her teams first and personal statistics second,” Tiscia said. “She is so unselfish and practices sportsmanship and friendship with teammates and opponents. These were qualities Allyson possessed above and beyond her athletic abilities.”
Someone who knows all about winning the award is 2005 recipient and Stamford head softball and assistant volleyball coach, Melissa Giordano.
Giordano coached Mattioli for four years in two sports as well as working with her during Unified Sports and said she is very deserving of the award.
“I think it is a big honor, very prestigious. It only goes to one female athlete from the entire city. For her to win it is a very big deal,” Giordano said. “She has a contagious attitude and is a really funny person. She loves to joke around. She is a totally different kid than you see on the field, she is all business then. Off the field, though, she has a great personality.”
Giordano said on the field, Mattioli playing second and Dana Serricchio at shortstop had a great rapport on the field making great plays, but Mattioli’s best asset was her competitiveness.
Mattioli said she could not choose which sport she enjoyed more because volleyball and softball are so different, but said she loved both because of her teammates.
“I have loved playing both sports for Stamford,” Mattioli said. “I will miss all the girls and all the coaches. There was never any drama on these teams, never any negative stuff. The teams had such family feelings and I am going to miss them so much.”
Mattioli will be attending University of New Hampshire in the fall.