Sometimes, it takes a community to create an opportunity, push through loss, and create history, which is seen in the life of Papillion’s own, Gina Mancuso-Prososki, Papillion-La Vista High School graduate and now franchise player for the Omaha Supernovas of the newly formed Pro Volleyball Federation.
“I am very proud of being a Monarch,” said Gina. During her time on the court there, the high school took back-to-back state championships in 2008 and 2009, and she earned the Gatorade National Player of the Year. “My four years at Papillion were a huge blessing and monumental for me. They were the stepping stones for my career.”
Now, Gina is playing for the PVF, the country’s first professional volleyball league. As one of seven teams in the inaugural season, Gina and the Supernovas served as the home team for the PVF’s first game on January 24. Gina believes this historic match, which takes place after the writing of this article, was placed in Omaha as a thank you to the long-time Nebraska fan.
“They know how much volleyball is loved around here,” Gina said. “Nebraska fans are deserving of this, if I may say.”
Gina credits Papillion, and the many fans who began following her when she wore the maroon and gold, as a crucial milestone in her career.
“I have been completely overwhelmed by the people who have followed me throughout my teenage years,” she said. “It’s an honor to play in front of family and friends who have supported me throughout my career.”
From Papillion and throughout the state from her time playing for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, these fans have been a tremendous support.
“For example, I hate losing; it bothers me to my core,” she said. However, she pointed to the recent support for the current Cornhuskers. Hundreds of fans gathered and waited at the airport to cheer on and welcome the team back after losing in the championship match. “That’s what I grew up with. So, even if I hate losing, the loss is more bearable because of them.”
Perhaps unique for the new PVF, Gina plays for and lives in her hometown.
“As of a month ago, I was the only player in the PVF playing in their hometown. To be able to say that is not only extremely cool, but it is such a blessing. I feel so overjoyed!”
This ability to work, play, and live in her hometown is life-changing, she explains, as before the formation of the PVF, it would be impossible for any Americans to play professional volleyball in their home country.
“It’s really life-changing, and I want people to understand that because when you’re not in it, you don’t really know,” she said. “After graduating, you had two choices: call it quits and let all those years go to waste, or you continue to play volleyball—but you have to pack two 50-lb bags and say goodbye to everyone you know for nine months, typically.”
While playing professional volleyball overseas, Gina has played in Puerto Rico three times, Germany twice, Poland twice, Indonesia and Azerbaijan.
While experiences differed from country to country, there were many tricky, if not uncomfortable, experiences—from language barriers, which side of the road people drive on, the prevalence of stick-shift vehicles, and even restroom practices.
“It’s a lot of things that I don’t think people realize,” she said. “Now you have a third option: stay here and play on your home soil.”
She repeats that it is a blessing to wake up in her own bed, live under the same roof as her husband, Masen, for the entirety of the year, and play with her dog, Ronnie, each day. This is life-changing for her and her fellow teammates, but also the many young girls who grow up in communities like Papillion with dreams of playing professional volleyball someday.
“It’s a life-changing opportunity for me personally and so many. I am incredibly blessed to be who I am and doing what I’m doing.”
“I can’t really say it’s a dream come true, because when I was a college, this wasn’t even a blip on the radar,” she said. “It’s hard to say that when you didn’t know it was even a possibility. However, now that I am in these shoes, I am so blessed!”
As Gina and the Supernovas make sports history, she encouraged fans to visit supernovas.com for tickets and links to follow along its various social media outlets.
“I am proud of where I come from, and I’m thankful for Papillion helping me jumpstart my career,” she said. “I would personally love to have their continued support. There’s no better way than showing up and being loud!”
"It’s a life-changing opportunity for me personally and so many."
“Now you have a third option: stay here and play on your home soil.”