This is the first in an occasional series on how some of the area’s top high school athletes are working to develop their skills over the summer.
Some might be tempted to slip next door and kick up their feet after a demanding sweat-fest, but the Good Counsel senior forward has never been one to lounge.
That desire to push herself is why Fioravanti signed on with personal trainer Blair O’Donovan, who also serves as strength and conditioning coach for the Gonzaga boys’ basketball team. For a grueling hour twice a week, O’Donovan works out Fioravanti to improve her strength, coordination, leaping ability and other aspects of her game.
“I feel dead,” Fioravanti said one afternoon this week as she caught her breath post-workout, a few hours before playing a summer league game. At one point, she wordlessly tossed her water bottle to her dad, Tony, for a refill. “Some of the things may not look hard, but your body feels them, really, a lot, right after.”
Fioravanti’s efforts are not only to get ready for her senior season playing for defending Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champion Good Counsel but also to prepare for college. The 6-foot-1 forward has narrowed her choices to Virginia, George Washington, Memphis, Pitt, St. Joseph’s and Wake Forest.
On this particular afternoon, she and O’Donovan dedicated much of the hour to vertical leaping, using a VertiMax machine that applies resistance, and other complementary drills, including pivoting and then jumping on a two-foot-high platform.
“She makes me tired just watching her work out,” her father joked.
Fioravanti said that most colleges do not project her as a post player. She bristles at that. That external doubt, and O’Donovan’s firm hand, help drive her through the hour. It also doesn’t hurt to have NBA star Kevin Durant peeking over her shoulder, via a poster, one with a “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard” caption. Former All-Met Player of the Year Durant, who played at Montrose Christian in Rockville, used to train at the same facility.
There’s a basketball hoop in the workout area, and some of the drills involve a ball, but no shots are taken. This is grunt work, and Fioravanti has done some version of it for years. When she was in seventh grade, the Frederick resident would arise early on Saturday mornings to ride to Chantilly to train.
“She knows what she wants and she knows where she wants to be,” said O’Donovan, who works with four of Good Counsel’s top returning players. “I’ve had kids who are on the same [Division I scholarship] track but take for granted how valuable this type of stuff is. It’s hard and not always enjoyable. But she knows that that discomfort is going to prepare her better for the next level.”
Other than maybe the pullups, Fioravanti considers the draining workouts to be fun. But they’re not for everybody. She said that some players from another WCAC school once joined her and O’Donovan for a session. Those girls were stunned at the intensity of the workout and vowed not to return.
“If you want it, you come back,” said Fioravanti, who averaged 17.7 points and 10.7 rebounds last season. “If you don’t, it’s your choice. Everything we do here helps on the court.”