Penn State athletics integrity officer Julie Del Giorno inducted into U.S. Military Academy Athletic Hall of Fame

Julie Del Giorno with yours truly. - Photo by Ray Floriani.

In a career full of accolades on and off the court, it has been a big year for Julie Del Giorno. In January, she was hired as Penn State's newly formed athletics integrity officer. Just this past weekend, she was inducted into the U.S. Military Academy Hall of Fame. Afterwards, she spoke about her new position and the development of women's basketball since her playing days.

WEST POINT, NY - The accolades are there and virtually jump off the page.

Four year letter winner (1983 through 1986). Honorable mention All-American as a junior and second team All-American her senior year in women's basketball. A bronze medal for service in the Gulf War.

Julie Del Giorno's accomplishments are numerous. Yet, the essence of her feelings and foundation of principles was evident in a short acceptance speech on Friday evening.

Del Giorno and nine other deserving individuals were inducted into the United States Military Academy Athletic Hall of Fame. The ceremony, at Eisenhower Hall on the historic and picturesque West Point campus, called for Del Giorno to address the attendees on behalf of the group inducted. Earlier, her college coach Lynn Chiavaro commented not only on Del Giorno's excellence on the court but, "having a great sense of humor." Del Giorno showed that latter side by beginning her talk wondering if her mom in attendance had already started telling the Army Superintendent how to better run the academy. Del Giorno's advice to Superintendent Lt. General Robert L. Caslen: "Just do what my sister and I did, say 'yes mom'."

She spoke of the honor of being inducted and addressing everyone on behalf of the group. Del Giorno noted how the inductees excelled at the highest levels of playing and coaching all while having embodied the academy "mission of leadership." She emphasized the three points taught at West Point that apply so well to athletics, or any endeavor: "Teamwork, having goals and pushing through the limits." Certainly the military life calls for all three, especially the third. Academics, business and athletics all demand these three valuable attributes as well.

Del Giorno summed up her talk, brief but valuable and moving, with the three fold idea of "duty, honor and country. Something each one of these inductees exemplifies."

After the formal induction, she was asked to give her views on the women's basketball game.

"The first difference (from the Eighties until present) is the ball," she said with a laugh and display of that humor. "Really, we used a regulation ball and the women's game today has one slightly smaller."

The idea of size stays at the forefront as the biggest change in nearly three decades.

'I tell my student-athletes (at Penn State) I was a four or five," she noted. "They laugh. I'm just about 6-1 in height and played wing and inside in college. Today you have guards in the women's game at my size, post players at 6-5. The players are bigger."

Not just bigger but definitely more skilled.

"The players are faster than when we played," she admits. "They are more skilled and the game has changed so much. So it is not just about the bigger players, you are talking about a faster game with better players."

The career saw her amass 1,270 points and 827 rebounds. Her Army team went to the NCAA tournament her sophomore year. They won the MAAC title and were off to the "Big Dance' on the Division II level.

"It was such a big thing (going to the tournament)," she recalls with great and fond memories. "We were a big thing on campus, I remember people seeing us off to wish us well."

Del Giorno grew up in Rochester, New York before moving to South Florida in her early teens. Yet it wasn't the Rochester roots that drew her to West Point. Rather, her older sister attended the academy and she fell in love with the school during a visit.

Throughout her athletic, military and professional tenure, she has faced challenges. Today there is one of significant proportion as she was recently appointed the Athletic Integrity Officer at Penn State.

"It has just been wonderful working with some outstanding people," she said of her current position. "We have people who, like here at Army, want an institution grounded on academic and athletic principles of the highest order."

She speaks highly of her staff and colleagues at Penn State. There is almost a tone of reverence when head football coach Bill O'Brien was mentioned.

"He (O'Brien) has been outstanding," Del Giorno praised. "He is doing a great job with the football program and has told me 'Julie, our door is always open. Feel free to come to our staff meetings or team meetings.' He is the real deal."

Festivities, presentation pictures, et. al. were finished. Time for Del Giorno to reconnect with family.

"She (Del Giorno) was a great player at West Point," said John L. Buckheit, Esq. , an '84 graduate who attended school during part of Del Giorno's playing days and closely follows the women's basketball program at the academy. "Given her success in other endeavors, I think she was a great call to help restore the prestige to the Penn State program."

And a great call to enter the Army Hall of Fame.

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