Roxanne Chalifoux became one of the faces of March Madness the last time the NCAA tournament visited Pittsburgh in 2015.
Then a Villanova student, TV cameras caught the Peters Township native crying while playing her piccolo in the Wildcats pep band after the team lost in an upset against N.C. State at PPG Paints Arena.
It was a made-for-social-media moment that went viral almost immediately as basketball fans across the country both empathized with her and were amused by her determination to play through her tears. In the following weeks, she inspired a bobblehead and sat in with The Roots during an episode of the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Three years later, Villanova is set to return to the scene of its infamous loss, so we checked in with the “Villanova Piccolo Girl” for an update on life after Internet fame and a look ahead to another round of March Madness in her hometown.
What have you been up to since you went viral?
I’m currently in my third year of optometry school at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University. I’ll be graduating in May of 2019.
Do you still have the piccolo? And if so, do you still play it?
Of course I still have my piccolo, but I don’t really play it since I’m no longer in a pep band. I was also generously gifted a new piccolo, courtesy of Gemeinhardt.
Do you ever watch the clips of yourself from that upset loss?
No, I never watch clips of myself. Living it was enough for me!
What was the best part of appearing on the Tonight Show?
The best part was living in the moment and doing something that was truly “once in a lifetime.” I’ll never forget the experience, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to create such an outstanding memory.
How did you celebrate Villanova’s national title the following year (2016)?
I went to the national championship in Houston and watched them beat North Carolina. It was certainly another memory I’ll treasure forever!
What are your thoughts about your Wildcats this season? What do they need to do to win the championship again this year?
I always think my Cats look ready to win, and I know they train diligently for every game. I’m sure they’ve prepared to bring home another title.
Will you attend the games this year with Villanova set to play in Pittsburgh again? Or do you worry that’s bad luck?
I won’t attend; I’m not worried about the luck so much as my life is a lot busier now that I’m in graduate school.
If you had to choose between Villanova winning another championship or a Pittsburgh team winning a championship, which way would you go?
I would rather see Villanova win a championship, but I’m always happy to see Pittsburgh win as well.
Eagles or Steelers? Have your thoughts changed now that the Eagles have a title?
Steelers all the way!
Do you have that bobblehead of yourself?
I do have my bobblehead, but it’s stored away for safe-keeping. My parents display theirs, though!