Ya-Ya. Salami. Monkey. Selenia Iacchelli's nicknames are as diverse as they are many.
While the first two handles are somewhat self explanatory - Ya-Ya a take on the pronunciation of her name (Seh-LEN-yuh YUH-kel-ee) and Salami a friendly reference to her Italian heritage - even she can't fully explain Monkey.
"Hopefully, it's not because I look like one," jokes the charismatic Iacchelli, a midfielder with the Vancouver Whitecaps women's team prior to Thursday's practice at Burnaby Lakes Sports Complex East.
"No, it was from a long time ago. My family used to call me that when I was young ... I guess I tended to act like one sometimes."
Yup, the good old days. Back when the 5-7, 140-pound Edmonton native collected rocks as a young girl. Not Barbies or Garbage Pail Kids - the collectable card phenomenon of the 1980s that parodied the Cabbage Patch Dolls - but rocks. As in the geological substance that forms the earth's lithosphere.
"I don't know why, but when I was little, I just remember having a big box of rocks ... they were all different sizes and they all had names," said Iacchelli, who will get her first start of the season in today's United Soccer Leagues W-League match with the Los Angeles Legends at Swangard Stadium. "I found them a few years ago at my parents place and thought, 'Wow, I was little weird.' "
Weird. Bizarre. Curious. Odd. Outlandish. Peculiar. Quirky. Call it what you will, the 21-year-old Iacchelli is still all that and then some.
"As a person, Selenia's a fun woman," said Whitecaps head coach Bob Birarda, who expects his veteran leader to bring a calming influence to his youthful lineup. " She used to do magic tricks - she just really likes to entertain. She's just a really unique person. She's very passionate about whatever she's doing and loves to engage other people. She just has that innate ability to relax people who are around her."
Like first-year Whitecap forward Chelsea Stewart, for one. The 18-year-old native of Highlands Ranch, CO., finds herself among the Whitecaps starting 11 sooner than expected as a result of a trio of key players being called up to play for the senior national side.
Forwards Jonelle Filigno and Jodi-Ann Robinson along with defender Emily Zurrer joined Canada earlier this week for today's International friendly against Australia in Sydney.
"No doubt, Selenia is one of the leaders of our team both on and off the field," said the soft-spoken Stewart. "She's been there and done that - nothing's come easy for her and she has the respect of everyone because of it. She's a lot of fun off the field, but when she's out there she has a lot of composure and that's really going to help me and everyone else for [today's] game."
Vancouver (0-0-1) is still looking for its first win of the campaign after last week's 2-2 tie with the Los Angeles Fusion. Nerves got the better of the Whitecaps early in that game, but Iaccelli thinks her side will be more settled today against the Legends (0-1-0), a team comprised mostly of NCAA players.
"We've had a good week of practice, I think it will be a lot different game," she said. "A lot of the girls hadn't played together and it showed. We're more comfortable now and we'll be a lot more cohesive this weekend. We have great potential."
Women vs. Los Angeles Legends 5 p.m. at Swangard Stadium
Men vs. Seattle Sounders 8 p.m. at Swangard Stadium
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