Spotlight on: Stephanie DeRiso

By Jasmine Rogers

This profile was written in 2012.

Today the spotlight is on Stephanie DeRiso, a rookie defensive end. Wearing number 91, DeRiso is excited about what the season has in store. A self-described “sports addict,” she has a very versatile athletic background in cheerleading, lacrosse, and men’s ice hockey. She credits her parents for supporting her addiction that could potentially negate all of the hard work they put into paying for her braces.

Her love for her family runs deep. Her family is her rock, keeping her grounded in tough times. This sophomore criminal justice major aspires to follow in her father’s footsteps and enter a career in law enforcement.

On the field, DeRiso is extremely reliable. She always shows up to practice on time, ready to lock and load when it’s time to start. Off the field, she’s just as reliable, maintaining a strict schedule that includes running, studying for school, and volunteering.

DeRiso is very passionate about helping our nation’s military veterans. She currently works with two organizations that focus on helping injured combat veterans recover upon their return. These organizations help raise money for music instruments, lessons, and whatever else the soldiers need.

Spotlight on: Stephanie DeRiso

What got you started playing football?
I work with a non-profit organization called Warrior Cry, which seeks to help wounded soldiers through the use of music. The founder let me know about the upcoming tryouts, and I figured I’d give it a go. It turned out much better than I expected!

Where does your passion for helping vets come from?
My passion for helping vets comes from the history of service in my family. I intend on having a career in Army JAG one day, and I don’t think this country understands enough about what our women and men go through as soldiers. I want to support those that lead the way, and I want the public to become more cognizant of what our men and women give up for the rights we enjoy. Their sacrifice and dedication leaves me in awe. This country needs to re-evaluate and focus our resources on those that fight for us.

What is your biggest accomplishment in sports?Just getting out there and playing. Ice hockey was the biggest leap of faith I had to take, but I made the team. I was horrible for quite some time, but that fearlessness ended up pushing me to break the mold elsewhere in my life as well. Trying out for and making the D.C. Divas has been such an amazing accomplishment. Each bruise that I wake up to the morning after practice is earned.

What was your biggest adjustment to football?The women! I’m used to breaking into a boys’ club and being the only chick. These ladies are much more intimidating and more dedicated! Divas are there for the love of the game, not the personal glory.

What is your favorite football memory/moment?I’d have to say Charmaine (Chase) hitting me so hard she knocked my spine out of whack. Playing hockey, I’ve been hit so hard I don’t know my name or where I am. But there is nothing like a deliberate tackle from a Diva that knows what she’s doing. That hit reminded me that I can’t afford to be complacent.

What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge?My biggest challenge is impatience. I get so fed up and shut down, which is not conducive to learning a new sport. For this issue, I take a moment and refocus. It also helps when my teammates give me comments on what I’m doing wrong and how I can improve.

What was the best advice you were ever given?
My mom always tells me that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. That little reminder has pushed me through the “Am I really cut out for this?” times in my life.

What’s your favorite quote?This entire poem is my favorite quote:

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.
– Charles Bukowski

Where do you draw your inspiration from?I am inspired by my future. When practice seems too tough or when I get frustrated, I look forward to my career goals to join the Army before or while working in law enforcement. If I stick to what I’m doing now, my future will be a whole lot easier. Giving up isn’t an option in anything I do, because I want to keep improving.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I have two closets dedicated to high heels and camo hats…quite the contradiction!

About Stephanie DeRiso

Name: Stephanie DeRiso
Age: 19
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Educational background: Student, criminal justice major
Years playing football: Rookie season
Sports participated in: Competitive Cheerleading, Lacrosse, Men’s Ice Hockey.
Total years in sports: 12 (Cheerleading: 3, Lacrosse: 5, Ice Hockey, 3)
Family: Has three siblings, a father in law enforcement, and a mother who works as a nurse and nurse legal adviser.