Salt Lake Community College Bruins freshman volleyball player Ailin (eye-lin) Donati’s season came to an abrupt end on Sept. 7, when she tore the ACL in her right knee. The injury comes only a few months after Donati moved to the United States from Rome, Italy after Bruins volleyball head coach Sue Dulaney recruited her.
Donati hopes to be able to play volleyball again in time for spring practices next season, especially since playing for the SLCC Bruins volleyball team is what gave her the opportunity to realize her dream of living in the United States.
“My dream, since I was like 13 or 14, was to change countries,” says Donati, who decided she wanted to move specifically to the United States. Other countries that originally interested her were Ireland and Denmark.
Donati’s move to the United States started with her using a recruiting service to help her garner interest in her skills.
Videos of her playing amateur volleyball in Italy were uploaded to the Internet, and several junior colleges and universities in the United States ended up making offers including SLCC.
“I really liked Ailin. She was a big strong setter, and she’s just a leader out there,” says Dulaney, who was able to help convince Donati that SLCC would be the best fit. Donati arrived in the United States on July 28ready to play volleyball.
Donati plays setter, which according to Dulaney is similar to being the quarterback of the team.
The leadership role is something Donati immediately assumed and excelled at upon arriving to SLCC.
“That (be a setter) is what she’s born to do,” says Dulaney.
According to Dulaney, communication was not much of a problem for Donati, because Donati had taken English classes at her high school in Rome.
Donati says people are friendlier here, whereas in Rome, which is a much bigger city, people are too busy to talk to strangers.
“I like it here. I’m in crutches now and something like six people will ask to help me with my bag,” says Donati.
Donati also says food servings and people are much bigger in the United States as are shopping centers.
“Wal-Mart is big, like a city. In (Rome) you can buy food, and then in another shop, you buy things for the house. I’ve seen a bank in the supermarket (in the United States); it’s so different,” says Donati.
She has also noticed different sports are popular in both places.
“The most popular sport (in Italy) is soccer; it’s like a god. There’s soccer and then all the others (sports),” says Donati.
Donati has always focused on volleyball, which she started playing when she was seven years old. She says her ACL is healing way ahead of schedule.
“Physical therapy is painful, and I suffer, but it’s okay. I know I have to work hard for my goal, and my goal is now to come back and play,” says Donati.
Donati came to the United States alone; her parents and older sister live in Rome.
Coach Dulaney and Donati’s father have become friends through the frequent e-mails he sends Dulaney inquiring about the status of his daughter.
Donati wants to major in biology and hopes to transfer to a good university after two years at SLCC.
Sophmore Baylie Henrie is currently filling in for Donati as setter for the Bruins.