From dual-athlete to coach: Migliaro’s unique career

Sam Tapper Sports Writer

The final home game of every college team’s season is known as Senior Day, honoring the senior teammates for their careers. For Southern’s Jana Migliaro, though her senior day on Oct. 26 may have been in a different sport than she originally planned, her journey is something she says she would do all over again.

Migliaro is currently a graduate student on the Owls’ field hockey team. She is a native of Monroe, Conn., graduating from Masuk High School with 10 varsity letters. Though she had been playing other sports since she was a kid, it was at Masuk where her field hockey career began.

“It’s kind of funny because I only played basketball and softball growing up, that was it,” said Migliaro. “After my freshman year [of high school], my softball coach was like, ‘oh my god, play field hockey it would be great for you to get in shape for basketball,’ and I said, ‘no, I don’t even know what field hockey is,’ I wanted nothing to do with it.”

After a lot of talking to with those close to her, including a pep talk from her dad the night before field hockey tryouts her sophomore year of high school, Migliaro decided she would indeed give the new sport a shot.

“I hated running on my own, it would get boring,” said Migliaro. “So, I thought maybe [field hockey] would be a great way to get in shape for basketball, so I ended up doing it and honestly, never in a million years did I think I would be playing in college.”

Migliaro said she was always a basketball player at heart, which is ultimately what brought her to Southern. Though she was recruited by Owls’ head field hockey coach Kelley Frassinelli out of high school, she ultimately chose to come to Southern to play basketball as a point guard.

She solely played basketball during her freshman year at Southern. However, in what Migliaro describes as “a funny story,” she would reconnect with Frassinelli and pick up the stick again, joining the field hockey team as a sophomore while continuing to play basketball.

“I think basketball actually helped me a tremendous amount in my field hockey game,” said Migliaro. “Even Coach [Frassinelli] will explain field hockey to me in basketball terms. She tells me something’s like a box-out or a give-and-go – she explains it to me in those terms, it’s funny.”

After two years as a dual-sport athlete at Southern, Migliaro stepped away from the basketball team as it became a lot on her body. Despite her career ending in her top sport, Migliaro invested her full heart and attention to field hockey, a sport she still loved. Today, Migliaro serves as one of three captains on the team — all of which have their own roles. Her role includes being the vocal teammate on the field and in the locker room.

“She’s just care-free, she just says what’s on her mind,” said Frassinelli.
“She’ll be the first to lighten the mood for everybody else. She’s just a great kid, she’s easy to communicate with and she’s easy to be around.”

Throughout her field hockey career, Migliaro has tallied two goals on four total points. Though she has not recorded a goal or a point this year, she is always serving as a role model, mentor and friend for the younger players on the team, like freshman forward Abby Kellerman.

“She always has your back,” said Kellerman. “If you’re confused, you can ask her anything, she never hesitates to help someone out.”

Field hockey aside, Migliaro said it is her dream to one day be a basketball head coach at the collegiate level. Though she no longer plays, she has continued to stay involved with the women’s basketball program, serving as a student-assistant coach on head coach Kate Lynch’s staff.

“Honestly, I’m so grateful for it,” said Migliaro. “Because the things I’ve learned, being on the coaching side of college athletics, it’s so different than what I thought as an athlete. Coach Lynch gives me so much opportunity and such a say in things, she really is awesome. They really value my opinion, which I think is amazing.”

There have been many obstacles thrown at her over the course of her collegiate career, including an end to her basketball career and a field hockey losing streak of over 30 games. Despite those things, the journey Migliaro has taken has given her a whole new perspective on life.

“If I had to do it all over again I would. Despite our records the past four years, I’ve learned so much even outside of field hockey like life lessons. The coaching staff has done so much for me as well,” said Migliaro, “playing field hockey here is so much more than the wins and losses, it just makes me look at things differently being on this team and honestly I’m really grateful for that experience — and learning actual field hockey is fun.”

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