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Stamford Pitcher Christina Joannou Uses Offseason To Embrace Her Greek Heritage

Stamford's Christina Joannou delivers a pitch during her shutout win over Fairfield Ludlowe earlier this month. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

Stamford’s Christina Joannou delivers a pitch during her shutout win over Fairfield Ludlowe earlier this month. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

STAMFORD — Christina Joannou’s time clock is atypical of the average high school senior.

During the spring, as the starting pitcher for the Stamford softball team, Joannou is up early for Sunday morning practices. In the months leading up to the season, some of Joannou’s Saturday nights end not long before her current workouts begin.

Joannou embraces her heritage going to what is known as Bouzoukia, a term for nightclubs that feature Greek music and dancing. Sometimes attending with her parents, or brother Sam and his friends, Joannou went to the regularly organized social gatherings, occasionally traveling to Norwalk or more often to Flushing in New York.

“They have live singers and bring them in from Greece,” Joannou said. “I kind of consider it a mini-concert. We dance and sing. Some of the singers are famous. They may not be famous-famous, but people do know of them. We would try and go down every other weekend.”

The music Joannou listens to is unlike what comes out of her headphones during the week, the same songs that have appeal to many of her friends at school.

“It is definitely a lot different,” Joannou said. “Kids nowadays are more into pop and rock. These are more older songs. Traditional Greek music. I think my friends would be shocked. I love all music.”

Christina Joannou dances to a singer at one of the Greek Bouzoukias she attends during the softball offseason.

Christina Joannou dances to a singer at one of the Greek Bouzoukias she attends during the softball offseason.

The Bouzoukias, which attract people of all ages, simulate life in Greece, which means Joannou’s Saturday night curfew is occasionally different from her classmates.

“My friends question why I’m up so early in the morning,” Joannou said. “It can be 6 in the morning and I may be coming home, but that’s what time they go to. In Greece they go until 7 or 8 in the morning. It may seem weird but it’s normal to us. I don’t do it during softball season or let it affect my schoolwork.”

Joannou’s grandparents were born in Greece, and she last visited the country seven years ago, but said attending a Bouzoukia brings back memories of her trip.

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“It’s kind of like home to me,” Joannou said.

Joannou’s school friends find her alter-social life a curiosity.

“Some of them wonder why I do it,” Joannou said. “I’m not always into the typical high school stuff. They go out and do things like go to the movies and I don’t care about going to the movies. I can watch movies any time. There are times I would rather go out with my Greek friends. It’s different. People definitely look at me different. I have a good amount of friends at Stamford High but a good amount of friends who are Greek as well.”

Joannou said attending Bouzoukias has had a positive affect on her development.

“It has definitely helped me open up,” Joannou said. “It has definitely helped me not to be shy. I’m still kind of a shy person. It has brought out my bright side, my happy, outgoing side.”

Joannou’s sole focus right now has been on her final softball season. She has pitched well to help the Black Knights get off to a 5-2 start. She has a 3-1 record following a win on Monday over Ridgefield. On opening day Joannou shut out Fairfield Ludlowe, which has not lost since.

“She’s doing a good job for us,” Stamford coach Tony Esposito said. “She’s becoming a good leader both by example and vocally. I’m very pleased and she’s going to get better as the year goes on.”

Joannou, who has not yet decided where she will go to school next year and aspires to become a teacher, said she is coming to terms with the end of her pitching career.

“It is mixed emotions,” Joannou said. “It’s going to stink leaving the team and softball because I love it. I’m going to miss the girls, I’m going to miss the coaches, I’m going to miss it all. But I’m very excited about the season. It is sad that it is going to be over, but I am having fun.”