STUDENT SUCCESS HOME > IONA LOFRANO
College of Health and Human Services
Iona Lofrano credits her success to her unstoppable drive, which serves her on the volleyball court and in the classroom.
The senior exercise science major received the 2015 Cal State LA Billie Jean King scholarship, and made history as the University’s first, three-time, All-American. Last year she was named to the 2015 Academic All-America Division II Volleyball Team, which recognizes the nation's top student-athletes for their performances athletically and in the classroom.
“I’ve always had a lot of goals for myself, and I don’t like to settle,” she explains. “I always think that I can do more. Even [after] what I did here the last three years…I still want more.”
Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA
Wanting something more--and something different--is what landed Lofrano at Cal State LA.
She was raised in a soccer family in Northern California’s Meadow Vista. Her father Fred Lofrano, now a referee, was her soccer coach when she was growing up. Her mother, Gillian Lofrano, was also hands-on with her daughter’s soccer career, and Gillian still plays a few nights a week. Iona was a shoo-in to continue playing soccer in high school and college.
But during her junior year of high school, Lofrano told her family she planned to play volleyball instead of soccer.
“I think I broke my dad’s heart,” she recalls. Though he disagreed with her choice, he didn’t try to stop her.
While attending high school, she also played with Cal Synergy Volleyball Club and Force Volleyball Club.
Lofrano had never heard of Cal State LA until she was approached by a recruiter. As soon as she stepped foot on campus, she fell in love. The campus felt warm and welcoming and she felt comfortable moving here, six hours away from her parents. Southern California’s warm weather also helped sway her decision.
But the awards and recognition Lofrano had grown accustomed to did not unfold quickly at Cal State LA. Like many freshmen, she did not play as much as she would have preferred.
“It’s really hard [to go through that]. But obviously I wasn’t going to quit.”
She spent the off-season improving her game, and when she got the chance to play during her sophomore season, she racked up the accolades and led the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) with 513 kills.
Lofrano credits much of her success to head Coach Randi Smart and Assistant Coach Jeff Alzina.
“They have both given me so much," she says, “not only in volleyball, but in life.”
She considers them mentors as well as friends. Lofrano is grateful to have two coaches who continuously educate themselves in order to educate their team. Smart and Alzina dedicate time to their players, even during the offseason. They give their players their all.
Alzina says Lofrano’s biggest strength is her focus. “She doesn’t want to be good at whatever she puts her time into. She wants to be the best,” Alzina says.
Lofrano always enjoyed learning, and she found a way to balance her class work and her team responsibilities.
“You have to set your priorities,” she says.
Between classes and volleyball, Lofrano stays busy. Because of connections she was able to make through her coaches, she has had the opportunity to coach a few teams of her own. She loves working with teenage players and has also considered becoming a volleyball coach in the future.
After graduation, she plans to attain the clinical hours necessary to apply for a physical therapy program. Lofrano is passionate about communicating with people and helping them through rehabilitation. As an athlete, she knows how important it is to provide warmth and quality of care for others.
She hopes to continue her studies at Cal State LA.
“[Cal State LA] has a small community feel. I’ve always had good relationships with all of my professors,” Iona says. “Everyone is willing to get you what you need, and then they give you more. I’ve been fortunate to be so successful here.”