To hear her orchestra teacher tell it, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose Clare Pisacano become class president one day.
Heck, at the rate she’s going, she might become the first female president of the United States.
Pisacano is not quite through her sophomore year at Little Flower High School, but that hasn’t stopped her from taking on more athletic and extracurricular endeavors than most high school students would ever consider. Mature well beyond her 16 years, it often takes one of her cheerful, braces-filled smiles to be reminded that Pisacano is just a kid, after all.
As a freshman, she played a whopping four varsity sports: field hockey in the fall, lacrosse in the spring, and she doubled up in the winter by finding time to swim and play basketball. Although she had never played organized field hockey or lacrosse, Pisacano still made the varsity squads. This year, she gave up basketball to focus on swimming, but, not taking it easy on herself, decided to become the first diver in the school’s history.
Just another day at the office.
“Rosie’s way is very old-fashioned,” said Phyllis Dalton, Pisacano’s orchestra teacher at Little Flower. “She reminds me of kids I saw every day when I was growing up. There were no cell phones, Internet or computer games, so we were always constantly involved in something outdoors. Back then, there was no time to waste your mind, and that’s how she approaches her activities. She’s a very unique young lady with an unprecedented need to achieve. All of the things she’s done, she’s done well. It’s a gift that many of us don’t have.”
In addition to her athletic accomplishments and being part of a resurgence in diving, Pisacano is a skilled flute and piano player, and this year has mastered the French horn in just a few weeks. She is a top-10 student in her class, with the rigors of her curriculum including a newly established (and very challenging) Chinese language program at Little Flower.
So how does she find time to balance it all?
“It’s not too hard to balance,” she said on a clear offseason evening, while she clutched a lacrosse stick during a workout at Father Judge High School. “Things are actually better in-season where I can manage my time much better. Doing all of these things have helped me make friends so quickly, and that’s what playing sports and going to high school is all about.”
For the record, Pisacano says her favorite sport is lacrosse, even though she is about to enter just her second year playing. However, she noted that swimming is the most exciting, and referred to it as “the best situation, social-wise.” She referred to the girls on the Little Flower swim team as her family multiple times, and it’s easy to see why she excels and is so universally accepted by her peers.
Pisacano has been swimming for as long as she can remember, always having enjoyed her swim club while she grew up playing sports in Rhawnhurst as a student at Resurrection of Our Lord grade school. But her foray into diving is a new one, so much so that despite Little Flower’s rich tradition, Pisacano is the first diver in the school’s history. And much like her other activities, Pisacano’s reason for getting involved is that she just wanted to try something different.
“I saw last year that there was a diver from St. Joseph’s Prep that got to participate in the state tournament at the end of the year, and I figured since they were in our league that they had to have diving for girls, too,” she said. “I just thought it was something I would try since diving was always an event left blank on our swimming-meet sheets. My hope is that girls from other schools in the area that do dive for their swim clubs will ask their coaches to get involved at the high-school level. It’s not a competitive sport you hear too much about at our age, but hopefully I can help bring it back.”
Pisacano explained that her father, Joe, helped whet her diving whistle by seeking out Steve Kuttruff, the diving coach at La Salle University who also runs the Centennial Aquatic Diving program, which specifically helps high school divers hone their skills.
“For the high school students, I just try to teach them the skills for the basic six dives that they need to learn for their meets,” Kuttruff said. “Rose was familiar with the basics when she found me, and has been very coachable. She has a good perspective and carries herself well. She’s eager to learn, and her attitude is very impressive for someone that hasn’t been diving competitively too long.”
Pisacano said that the most important aspect of diving is to understand that she has to let the diving board do most of the work. The experience has made her mentally stronger, something that certainly has helped enrich her mind in the classroom, as evidenced by her desire to learn Chinese.
“I like learning Chinese because, like lacrosse, it’s very involved and you have to be very fast in order to pick up on it,” Pisacano said. “I also like the language because it allows you to use a different part of your brain. We have Asian neighbors, so I’ve always been fascinated by their culture. The Far East countries have become so dominant in the world, so I figured it was a useful language to learn. It’s something completely new, and I have to accept that in order to find success within the classroom.”
The most common question one comes up with after spending some time with her is, how on Earth, with so much going on in her life, does she find time to be a normal 16-year-old kid?
“I take the summers off to go down the shore and spend time with friends or go on vacation with my family,” Pisacano said of her mom, dad and three younger siblings. “But it’s not a burden for me, and I wouldn’t participate in all of these activities if I didn’t enjoy them. The last thing I want to do is look back on these four years and say I didn’t get to experience high school. I want to remember this time in my life, and it’ll be hard not to with all of these interesting things that I got to try.”
Joe Pisacano is proud of his daughter, but he says he always makes sure to check that Rose is enjoying herself too. The last thing he wants is to become one of those overbearing parents who push their kids into something that will only cause resentment later in life.
“Like Rose said, her involvement in all of these things has allowed her to really enjoy her life,” Joe Pisacano said. “She immediately feels like she brings something to the table, which is why I think she excels so much at everything she does. My wife and I just want to give the kids an opportunity to explore the world as much as possible. It’s important to enjoy what life has to offer, and I’m not sure I know anyone who gets more out of life than Rose does.” ••EndFragment