Making the Grade - Greg Valli

Written by Emily Logan, C'04

Dec. 11, 2003

Being a student-athlete in college is no easy task. Not only do you have to dedicate hours of training to your sport, you also have to budget yourself enough time to concentrate on your schoolwork. Many people manage to fit everything in, but few people excel like senior football player Greg Valli. Now in his final year at Penn and enrolled in Wharton with a concentration in finance and sports law, Valli has cherished both his athletic and academic endeavors.

"Playing a sport by itself is hard enough. There are countless hours involved and it is both physically and mentally exhausting. This, in combination with taking courses at one of the top schools in the nation, can be overwhelming. But, athletics help you remain on schedule and forces you to be organized. I am glad I was able to take on the challenge of combining academics and sports. I think it helps build character and prepares you for situations later on in life," Valli said.

In Valli's case, the combination has been an invaluable one. Starting out with a concentration in finance, he soon discovered that life after graduation wouldn't be the same without some involvement in athletics. So, impressed with the legal studies courses he had taken, Valli added a second concentration in sports law.

"Wharton has a great Legal Studies department, and I really wanted to take advantage of it. Ideally, I would like to work in the sports business, so I figured this would be a good stepping-stone," Valli said.

In fact, Valli's undergraduate career at Penn will be a good stepping-stone for whichever path he chooses to follow after graduation. Being on the Dean's List three times, he not only balances academic and athletic life, he excels in both areas. So where does a 21 year-old find the drive to maintain his focus? He learned it a long time ago, from none other than his parents.

"My parents have been the biggest influence in my academic career. Since I was in kindergarten they stressed the importance of an education. I remember them sitting me down every day after school and making sure my homework was completed before I would go out with my friends. This helped instill discipline that is still with me today. Also, I know how hard they have worked to send me to a great school such as Penn, so that helps keep me focused on my studies," Valli said.

At the moment, Valli is starting to think about post-graduation plans.

"My main goal for next year is to find a job that really interests me, whether it is in finance or in sports. I am not too worried about having my career path set in stone from the first day after I graduate. I want to make sure I find something that makes me happy with no regrets. If I could have any job next year, it would be as a sports agent. I want a career that allows me to travel and interact with people on a face-to-face basis. A sports agent would do just that, while allowing me to stay close to my love of sports," Valli stated.

With his education obtained from Wharton and the skills he has learned on the playing field, Valli is well prepared for whatever challenge he takes on next. He has used his time at Penn to focus on what is important to him, while still managing to have fun. While many see college as the best four years of their life, there is a good chance that for Greg Valli, the best is yet to come.