Spotlight On ... Bianca

The spotlight turns to rookie Timberwolves Dancer Bianca this week, as she talks about her extremely athletic father and grandfather, family excursions to Italy and more.

MT: You're about as Italian as they come, right?
Bianca: I've been to Italy twice, and on one of those trips my grandparents took our entire family - cousins, uncles, aunts, 21 of us - and we stayed in a villa. We went to Bari, where my father is from, and also Tuscany, Rome, and other cities.

MT: Your father, Tino, was actually a professional soccer player, yes?
Bianca: Yes, and now he actually owns a cafe in Minnetonka called Tino's Pizzeria. He's 100 percent Italian, off the boat, and Italian food is huge in our family. It was more of a coffee shop a few years ago, but now it's a full family-owned restaurant. You can get pizza by the slice, or really any kind of pasta.

MT: Nice. If we pub it here (Tino's Pizzeria, right next to Minnetonka High School on Highway 7) can I get some free food?
Biance: We'll see. But there is a pasta of the day, and my dad makes everything fresh. Different red and white mixes with the sauces, and whatever you need.

MT: I'm getting hungry. Do you have family members that help out at the restaurant?
Bianca: My little brother Vinny, who's 13, helps my dad out once in a while. I'm there once in a while, and my mom will help decorate or clean occasionally. But none of us work there.

MT: I read that your father kept a stuffed parrot named Ozzie that he kept in the back of his net during games until it was banned in 1985. Do you have a pet bird?
Bianca: I'm not really a pet lover, and yeah, my dad had a bird once ... It was actually his mascot when he played for the Minnesota Kicks and Strikers. So, maybe I'd have some wild bird, just to bring the tradition back.

MT: When did you realize your dad was really, really good at soccer?
Bianca: I don't really remember from when I was little, but as I started to get older and we'd be out places, people would be like, 'Oh that's Tino!' Then I'd watch videos, and he has pictures of Pele. He always wanted me to be in soccer, and I was for a long time.

MT: Were you any good?
Bianca: Yeah I was, and he was very, very hurt when I quit and chose dancing and gymnastics over soccer. He used to train me in the backyard all the time.

MT: What about your lil' bro, can he play?
Bianca: Yes, but he's a very good hockey player as well.

MT: Which makes sense, because your grandpa Lou Nanne is big name in Minnesota and U.S. hockey, having played for the Gophers and North Stars, served as GM and coach of the Star, and played on and been GM of the U.S. National Team.
Bianca: Right. Hockey's in our blood on my mom's side of the family. All the boys in the family have taken that up, trying to carry the tradition.

MT: Who's your favorite athlete?
Bianca: My grandpa.

MT: OK, other than your grandpa.
Bianca: I'd have to say Brent Burns on the Wild.

MT: Let's move over to dance. Have you ever had a bad wipeout?
Bianca: Oh definitely. It was a jazz dance at a recital, and a girl actually took me out with her leg. I completely wiped out. People that knew the dance figured it out, but I covered it up pretty well by doing my own thing.

MT: Did you hit your face on the ground?
Bianca: Yes.

MT: Sweet.
Bianca: Uh-huh.

MT: Since you're a Minnetonka graduate, which school is worse: Wayzata or Hopkins?
Bianca: Oh my. The only reason I'd say Wayzata is that they were a big dance competitor for us. It was one team that we always wanted to beat ... Wayzata won every time we competed. We did make it to the State Tournament, but we always lost by a few points.

MT: How many free throws would you have to shoot before making one?
Bianca: I'm very coordinated. It doesn't take me a long time to learn something, so if I got the rhythm down, with the wrist flip and everything. I'd say two or three.

MT: We'll have to check on that ... But thanks for the time!
Bianca: No problem.