Hi everyone! I recently returned from my trip to Italy, and am inclined to share my trip with you all. I want to highlight the details of the amazing, busy time I had and tell you what I personally gained from it all. I traveled with the help of the USSSA Pride and our Italian hosts, which consisted of members from the Italian National Softball Team and different club team owners throughout Italy (shout out to Alessandro). My teammates Kelly Kretschman, Gionna DiSalvatore, and Sierra Romero were with me as well.
I need to start by making you all aware that I am a walking version of Murphy's Law, which states "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." It doesn't matter where I am or who I am with, this concept lives within me and I cannot escape it. That being said, we originally were supposed to fly out of Orlando airport at 6pm. Of course, because I am on the flight, we delay almost 5 hours and miss our connection flight in New York to Milan, Italy. We reschedule the connecting flight for the next day in the evening. When we arrive in New York, it is around 2:45pm. Guess what? I'm sure you can. Our bags didn't make it to the drop off. We had a bit of a run in with Delta (booooo) and didn't get our bags until 4:45am. I got to sleep around 5:15am and woke up to conquer the day around 1pm. After a fun day in Brooklyn, New York, we boarded our plane and were off to Italy. But, knowing me and because this is extremely important for you to know, I barely got any sleep. You KNOW your girl was a hot mess getting off that plane.
We dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed for our first session of camp. These camps were set up in hopes that our experience as high level softball players would be beneficial in teaching the game to Italian softball youth. We did three days for each camp, with two camps total. Our first stop was in Castelfranco, and our second was in Milan. The days were long, with the camps going from 9am to around 4pm.
One of my favorite things in the world is food (DUH). The great thing about Italia and the culture is that it revolves around socializing and eating. So, when we would finish with the first session of camp in a day, we would break for lunch that lasted around two hours. We had amazing pasta, salad, vegetables, and meats every day. It was the greatest meal I've ever had, every time I finished eating a new meal. The talk was endless, and I was constantly trying to learn new phrases. Because I'm childish and immature, I wanted to know the bad words to yell at my friends during drills. I'll choose not to include those in this post. Maybe in the future... (joke parents).
During the camps, there was always learning going on. Interestingly enough, I feel like I learned more during the camps than maybe the kids did. Culturally, softball can be played differently. This is what makes international play so exciting and cool- there is ALWAYS a slight variation in the way plays are executed, the bat is swung, and communication is given across the field. One thing about softball is that there is always room to learn and grow, you never really become the all-knowing one. Unless your Kelly Kretschman and you're the greatest of all time. It was very refreshing to just converse about softball and how teamwork between two cultures can mold young individuals into smarter and better players.
Our last two days were our "off-days," and we chose to visit Lake Como and Venice. Lake Como is the home of George Clooney, so I thought it was appropriate to visit my husband while on the trip. The sites were beautiful, and a constant reminder of how pure and clean nature is, especially in different parts of the world. We had lunch overlooking the lake and were accompanied by two former MLB players. While eating, we exchanged stories about playing, World Series rings, and the endless opportunities that both of our sports have given us. The food was unreal, too.
The following day, we traveled to Venice by a three-hour train ride. Most of the day was spent walking around, looking at the different street crafts and admiring the old buildings. I was living life in a painting, often blinking to make sure what I was looking at was really there! I wish everyone could get a chance to travel here. The canals seemed like a part of a Disneyland ride. My teammates and I split a gondola and were taken down the different canals and given a rich history lesson on Venice. We were wiped afterwards, and I slept on the train back like a baby.