Surrounded by her teammates in the locker room after a practice over the summer, Mia Gallo, a forward for CSUF women’s basketball, was presented with a letter.
While reading the letter aloud to her teammates and coaches, Gallo found out she received a full athletic scholarship for her final year at CSUF.
“It was not something that I expected at all. We never really talked about it. Coach kind of asked me for my student ID to set up the financial part of it, but it was totally out of the blue,” Gallo said.
In the last two years, Gallo has been a walk-on for the Titans.
As a San Diego native, she played high school basketball at Cathedral Catholic High School. An injury during her senior season slowed down her recruiting process and limited the opportunities she had at the collegiate level.
“I tore my ACL going into my senior year and that kind of messed some things up. Then I came here just as a student and walked-on,” Gallo said.
The walk-on process wasn’t easy for Gallo though. With no available spots on the roster her freshman year, Gallo took the year as an opportunity to work on her game.
“I pestered the coach like crazy. I was told my freshman year that there weren’t any spots and then I just took that year to get better and try to develop. I came back the next year and made it,” Gallo said.
After successfully making the roster, Gallo needed to figure out how to balance basketball and school. Off the court, Gallo is in the Sigma Kappa sorority, is a member of the Panhellenic Executive Board and volunteers at a children’s hospital.
In her first year on the team, Gallo played in 26 games for the Titans. She averaged 0.9 points per game and was third on the team in 3-point field goal percentage, shooting 30 percent.
Gallo’s playing time decreased last season as she played in 11 games for the Titans and averaged 2.6 minutes per game.
Despite seeing limited action, CSUF women’s basketball head coach Jeff Harada knows Gallo put in the work she needed to, which ultimately led to her scholarship.
“She pushed herself to get herself where she needed to, she put the work in. Anytime a kid puts the work in like that, it’s a life lesson. You get rewarded for the work you put in and I wanted to reward her for the work that she put in,” Harada said.
Gallo’s position on the team transcends her time on the court. She has been a role model for the younger players on the team and her work ethic is greatly appreciated by the staff.
“You wish you had 15 players that have her desire and her work ethic. That can be contagious and rub off on any of our young players moving on. That’s just a blessing we’ve received from her,” Harada said.
Gallo’s journey from being a walk-on to receiving an athletic scholarship exemplifies dedication.
“She will give you every ounce she has of effort. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for from your players. Give us everything you have and if you’re doing that, I can’t ask you for anymore. She gives that every day,” Harada said.