SJU Women’s Lacrosse Player Inspires Hawks Through Her Athletic-Wear Brand

Carina Chieffalo ’25 founded 5ALPHA with the motto “Do it better,” which she embodies as a student-athlete and a cadet in the Army ROTC.

Carina Chieffalo ’25 holds a black 5ALPHA shirt in front of her

by Luke Malanga '20

When the Saint Joseph’s University women's lacrosse players aren’t wearing their team uniforms, some of the student-athletes can be spotted wearing t-shirts with “5ALPHA” written across the chest in bold text. The brand, started by sophomore lacrosse player Carina Chieffalo ’25, has resonated with students across the campus community who are embracing its motto “Do it Better.”

As an athlete, Chieffalo found herself wearing a lot of generic big-name athletic wear and wanted to create something quality that was more personal. In high school, Chieffalo started 5ALPHA Apparel, which is an acronym for Ambition, Leadership, Perseverance, Hard Work and Action. She’s built a community of athletes who embody the brand's tenets. 

Four students wearing 5Alpha sweatshirts in pink, blue and black“It has blown up tremendously at St. Joe's and I think it's because of the tight knit community that we're in,” says Chieffalo. “The St. Joe's community has really embraced it — not only the students but the faculty as well. Some professors are wearing the brand and talking about it in class. It makes me almost emotional to think about because St. Joe's is my place and I'm really glad that people are leaning into it and wanting to be a part of it.”

Katy Benton ’23 played rec lacrosse with Chieffalo when they were younger. Now, she’s on the SJU field hockey team and is a brand ambassador for 5ALPHA. 

“I really just fell in love with the whole idea behind it,” Benton says. I've always loved the idea of doing better and being better than you were yesterday and I think that's kind of how I am as an athlete.”

For her Public Relations and Publicity class, Benton had to come up with a PR communications plan for a hypothetical event. She was inspired to write her plan with the concept of an alumni reunion for international players on the field hockey team, which included custom 5ALPHA shirts.

When she was younger, Chieffalo watched in admiration as entrepreneurs pitched their companies to investors on ABC’s Shark Tank. Now, Chieffalo is majoring in entrepreneurship and leadership ethics and organizational sustainability (LEO) while also running her own brand.

Chieffalo applies the principles she’s learning in the classroom to her business on a regular basis, but she also finds even more value in the connections she makes with her classmates — some of whom have even become unofficial interns with 5ALPHA.

“It's not just the day-to-day of the classes for me. It's more about who I’m sitting next to, how we can be friends or how can this relationship excel so we can help each other,” Chieffalo says. “That's why I came to St. Joe's — it’s a very intimate community and that’s something that you cannot find at a lot of other schools. I know the people in my class and I know their names.” 

Chieffalo, who is an embodiment of her brand and its values, likes to keep a regimented schedule so she can find time for her business, classes and lacrosse. She is also a cadet in the Army ROTC and a volunteer firefighter in Trooper, Pennsylvania. 

Carina Chiefalo shows her lacrosse jersey under her ROTC uniform
In addition to being an entrepreneur and student-athlete, Chiefallo is a cadet in the Army ROTC and a volunteer firefighter in Trooper, Pennsylvania. 

“I always wanted to be serving either the community, serving my country or serving other people around me,” she says.

For Chieffalo, having a busy schedule helps her to be disciplined with her time. Alex Kahoe, head coach of the women's lacrosse team, recognizes Chieffalo’s focus and how she pushes her teammates to be better.

“She puts everything she has into what she's doing in the moment,” says Kahoe. “She is also just a great supportive friend and supportive teammate.” 

Chieffalo, who has played on many teams, from rec to high school to travel lacrosse, says her team at St. Joe’s is the best she’s ever been on in large part because of the attitude of her teammates and the leadership of Kahoe. Her coach says Chieffalo helps foster that supportive and hard working mentality too.

“Carina’s mindset, her positive attitude, her intensity, her willingness to step up in any situation, that's contagious,” says Kahoe, “It's great to see other teammates step up with her. And then to see them representing the 5ALPHA brand. So, they’re physically representing her brand, but then also actually representing her brand in terms of the values — it’s so great to see that level of support for her.”