June 12, 2011
Contact: Tim Ertle
She walks like an athlete because she is one.
Former Cleveland State soccer player Allie Riczo has transformed from a soccer player to an actress and a model. She left the Cleveland suburbs for the bright lights of New York City. Still, she never forgets her roots.
This past September, Riczo's career reached new heights when she was asked to participate in the city's famous `Fashion Week'. One of the directors told her she walked like an athlete, a suggestion that Riczo took as a compliment.
"I've played sports since I was a little kid," she said. "I guess I picked up the athlete walk along the way."
Not only is she an athlete - but a pretty good one. Riczo, who donned the Green and White from 2006 through 2010 after redshirting during the 2007 campaign, lettered four times in soccer and three years in track at nearby Padua High School.
After a standout career for the Bruins, she attended skill showcases in hopes of landing an offer from a Division I school. While mulling offers from Akron and Western Michigan, Riczo met CSU head coach Derrek Falor.
From the perspective of a woman who has seen it all in fashion, she remembers Falor approaching her in his patented Cleveland State sun hat. After the two chatted, she agreed to come visit campus and immediately knew she wanted to be a Viking, citing something she couldn't quite put her finger on.
She was an instant contributor, starting 19 of 20 matches in her true freshman season. The following year, she was active for the first three matches but was forced to redshirt as a result of a medical condition that hindered her stomach and ability to train.
Demonstrating the persistence that will undoubtedly be required for an aspiring actress/model, Riczo fought the illness throughout the rest of her career to appear in 56 matches in her final three seasons and left school as the all-time leader in games played with 79, a record that still stands.
As a student-athlete, Riczo balanced a hectic schedule, picking up jobs around town while pursuing her degree in early childhood education. She went to Slovakia before her senior season but realized that her medical condition would prohibit her from training at the level required by professionals.
She played for the Vikings in 2010, teaming with best friends Jessica McCloy, Sylvia Olsby and Kelly Zinkiewich to lead the club to a 9-8-2 mark. Riczo earned her degree in May of 2011 and quickly set out for New York to pursue a different dream.
In a short time, she's made strides you would expect from someone who stands 5'10.
Recently, she's appeared in advertisements for Maybelline and is featured in a new campaign for Tequila that will help her gain exposure all throughout North America. She's represented by numerous agencies and dabbles in modeling, acting and fitness work.
On top of that, she spends time studying to acquire her personal training certificate and spends time with her fleet of animals that include a rabbit, two rats, eight cats and a pitbull appropriately named Cleveland.
Riczo got to come home last month as she spent three weeks filming "Hall of Fame," a low-budget Christian feature film that will hit local theaters in the next eight months.
"Being home for a little bit was awesome," Riczo said. "I was able to visit with my old roommates and stay at my parents house. For me to further my career, New York is where I need to be, but I'm a Midwest girl at heart."
And people can tell.
"Whenever I go to castings, people always say I have an Ohio accent," she says.
Even from New York, Riczo keeps tabs on her Vikings.
"I'm still close with the coaching staff and one of my old roommates (Zinkiewich) is coaching there now," she says. "Playing soccer at Cleveland State was the best time of my life. I've really enjoyed seeing the program develop and it's nice to see the direction that the team is headed."
And they keep tabs on her.
"When I talk to Allie, I'm so proud of her and what she is doing," Falor says. "What I will always remember about her is the persistence she demonstrated on a daily basis to work through the pain and discomfort that would put most people in a bed. She took that redshirt to try and get right physically but the condition wouldn't go away and she was so resilient and competitive to keep fighting through it."
Those traits will only benefit her going forward.
"Allie says she misses soccer and the competitiveness of it, but I remind her that there is a lot of competition in what she is doing now," Falor said. "Having spent a lot of time around her, I know she'll succeed because she is determined to not let anything stand in her way. No one works harder to achieve their goals than she does, but more importantly, Allie has taken everything she learned here with us and has found a way to translate that into practical, real world success."