Utah Forward Alissa Pili’s Love Of Sports Started On The Gridiron

Feb 2, 2023, 11:03 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah women’s basketball forward Alissa Pili has been making waves for the Utes out on the basketball court, but she recently revealed how her love of sports started out on the gridiron.

Recently, Pili was named to the late season Top 20 Watch List for the John R. Wooden Award for her incredible play that’s given out to the most outstanding college basketball player every season. The Utes’ star athlete has been key piece in creating a lot of buzz around Lynne Roberts’ climbing program with thrilling clutch plays in Top-25 matchups, while also consistently being cited as a good teammate that’s helped to raise the bar.

On Wednesday, Pili hopped on with Scott Garrard to discuss how the season has been going for the Utes, her transition to a new team, and yes, her love of football and how it translates to her game out on the court.

Pili’s Love Of Sports Started With Football

Pili grew up around football and says that was her first love in sports. Her older brother, Brandon, just wrapped up his college career with USC in January and for a long time she says they played on the same team with their father, Billy coaching them up.

“That was my first love,” Pili said. “My older brother played football, and then my dad was the coach for a little while. Just being around it, I think I kind of grew to enjoy it and once I got to third grade, I think I told my dad I wanted to play, and he let me. It was fun for me being coached by my dad and playing with my brother.”

Pili also says she believes her dad got a real kick out of her love and desire to compete and be the best out on the gridiron with her older brother and other boys.


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“I think he was fired up about it,” Pili said with a laugh. “It just showed my toughness at an early age and how much of a competitor I was, so I think he was happy about that.”

While Pili may not be suiting up anymore to play football, she does believe those early years playing the sport have really translated to what she’s been able to accomplish on the basketball court in college.

“Yeah, for sure,” Pili said. “I think it has helped me be the strong player that I am. It helped me with body control a little bit, and just playing football for that long, I think it helped with my strength.”

Utes Wanting To Finish Strong

This is only Pili’s first year with the Utes, but the second year the team is making some noise for post-season play. In 2022 they made the final round of the Pac-12 Tournament against Stanford and made their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2011.

At 18-2 and No. 7 in the country, Pili and the Utes are hoping to make a run again while locking down a few NCAA Tournament games at home in the Huntsman Center for their fans to enjoy.

“We just need to stay sharp and it’s kind of deep into the season, so, just stay together and show our mental toughness,” Pili said. “That will help us a lot moving forward.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports

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Utah Forward Alissa Pili’s Love Of Sports Started On The Gridiron