Recent Christopher High graduate Cloey Turiello got accepted into 17 of the 20 colleges she applied to, so it goes without saying that she had plenty of great options on where to spend the next four to five years of her life.
In the end, the tiebreaker was the opportunity to play field hockey with her older sister Skyler, a 2022 CHS graduate. Cloey will join Skyler at Maryville University in Missouri, a Division II program 30 miles west of St. Louis.
The Turiellos are sisters who happen to be best friends, which helped Cloey make a tough decision. With a 4.33 GPA and having completed a bountiful of diverse extracurricular activities, Turiello had a college application resume second to none.
“It all felt kind of surreal because picking a college was definitely not easy for me,” said Turiello, who signed her letter of intent with Maryville in the last week of April. “It’s going to be really special and I’m really excited that I’ll get to spend the next three years with my sister on the field. She loves it there so I’m excited to join her and find my own path, too.”
Whether it was field hockey in the fall, soccer in the winter or track and field in the spring, Cloey delivered an array of impressive performances in the 2022-2023 high school sports seasons. Her top honor came in the field hockey season, when she earned Blossom Valley Athletic League Mount Hamilton Division Co-Senior of the Year.
Turiello, a fleet-footed forward, scored 18 goals to help lead CHS to a historic season, culminating in the program’s first-ever Central Coast Section championship game appearance. The path to the final included a nail-biting, 1-0, double-overtime win over perennial power Los Altos in the quarterfinals and a riveting 1-0 victory over the section’s preeminent program, Los Gatos, in the semifinals.
Turiello also was an impact forward on a girls soccer team that had its moments in the ultra-rugged Mount Hamilton, one of the top three girls soccer leagues in the CCS. Then it was onto track and field, a sport Turiello was competing in high school for the first time not counting the abbreviated, one-meet Covid season.
Turiello did well this past season in the pole vault and long jump, finishing fourth and 10th, respectively, in the BVAL Santa Teresa East Division Finals. Turiello attacks her off the field goals in the same way she goes toward the goal or when she’s sprinting down the runway: with purpose and poise.
She already has the vision of her post high school plans laid out. Turiello is going to pursue a risk management degree in Actuarial Science, earn her Masters in the fifth year and then go into an Aviation school/program with the goal of becoming a Captain.
Turiello has always set lofty goals for herself and tends to achieve them. Should she one day become a Captain, it would be inspirational and even awe-inspiring for a host of reasons. Women only make up 4.6% of air transport pilot jobs, according to a report from the Women in Aviation board.
And a scant 1.92% of pilots are female, according to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots. Turiello was most likely headed to a career in aerospace engineering until she enrolled in the Young Eagles Program out of Watsonville Municipal Airport six months ago.
The national program was launched in 1992 to give children and teenagers from the ages of 8-17 the opportunity to go flying. The pilots and ground crew volunteer their time and cost to give youngsters a flight that they “hope will inspire them to fall in love with aviation,” according to the EAA Aviation website.
And that’s exactly what happened with Turiello, who credited her mom, Crystal, for crystallizing—no pun intended—Cloey’s dream of becoming a pilot. In the beginning of Turiello’s senior year, she had a conversation with her mom about her future career, having struggled to decide.
“She said, ‘What about being a pilot?’” Cloey said. “I thought being a pilot would be a cool job but one of those career jobs you can only dream of if you have connections in the aviation world. But her saying that made it actually seem like a possible career.”
Cloey’s goal of becoming a pilot had liftoff. She got into the Young Eagles program where once a month, participants are taken up in a plane—usually a Cessna—and are taught how to turn and go up and down. It didn’t take long before Turiello was helping guard the controls of a Cessna with an instructor, feeling every subtle shift and surge the airplane made.
“It’s really fun and everything seems so small when you’re up in the air,” she said. “Every time I flew, you see a whole new perspective of the world and how our choices can lead us to different paths.”
Even though her achievements on and off the field were weighty, it was Turiello’s ability to overcome a serious injury that proved to be one of the defining moments in her life. During the first week of league soccer play in her junior season, Turiello took a hard hit in the back of her knee which tore her ACL “clean off the bone.”
However, it took three weeks to get an MRI and it was only then when Turiello learned she had suffered a torn ACL.
“My mom was devastated but I saw it as an opportunity,” Cloey said. “Of course it was devastating, but it made me learn a lot about myself through this journey.”
Once she was sidelined, Turiello realized just how much she loved playing sports and gained an even greater appreciation for the opportunity to compete. Despite not having to be with the team, Turiello was often on the bench cheering her teammates on from a wheelchair.
That squad made CHS girls soccer history, winning league, CCS and CIF Nor-Cal Regional titles in the same season. Just 3 ½ months after her surgery, Turiello was attending 8am summer CHS field hockey team workouts.
“I had the itch to play and needed it in my life, to be out there every morning with the team,” she said. “I was doing either stick work or core exercises because I wanted to get in shape to play my senior season. I learned if I set my mind to it, I can do anything.”
Of that, there is no doubt. Turiello made a triumphant return, scoring three goals in her first match back approximately three weeks into the season.
“My spirits were kept high and playing in that game made me feel good,” she said.
Turiello credited her surgeon and doctors for pushing her along and her coaches for keeping her involved with the team even when she was sidelined.
“I was able to help out at practice and help coach at times [which helped me stay strong mentally],” she said.