By Claudio Burratti / News Reporter || Edited by Amber Alexander
JCU Gladiators’ logo. (facebook.com/JCU Gladiators)
ROME—A weekend trip outside of Rome organized by JCU’s Athletic Department for October was canceled a week before, due to very few sign-ups from a list of 110 student athletes playing this year. Organizers and Basketball Team members comment on the news.
The event was to be held in the small town of Tagliacozzo, Abruzzo, from Oct. 14 – Oct. 16, and it would’ve been the first time for the six Gladiator teams to travel together on a weekend retreat: the Soccer team, the Women and Men’s Futsal teams, the co-ed men and women Volleyball team, the Men’s Basketball team and the Cheerleading team.
JCU Sports Activities Coordinator and Event Manager, Marco Iorio, said the trip was mainly aimed at recreating the “Gladiators spirit” lost during the two years of pandemic.
“I can’t explain why the kids didn’t join,” Iorio said. “Maybe they didn’t understand the real meaning of the event, or maybe they just preferred to do something else.”
The accommodation chosen for the retreat was The Park Hotel, one of the most renowned facilities for recreational events in the area. The hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, a soccer field, two futsal courts, a basketball court that can also be used for volleyball, and a beach volleyball court.
All five JCU coaches from the six different sports teams were going on the trip, with the exception of the Cheerleaders coach, unable to leave Rome for work-related reasons. Another staff member to attend was the department’s media manager and photographer.
According to Massimiliano Menculini, Athletics Coordinator Assistant, some possible reasons for the students’ lack of participation are midterms, the agendas of student abroad students who often spend their weekends traveling around Europe, and maybe the €70 that students needed to contribute, since the Athletics Department was covering the rest of cost, according to Menculini.
“I signed up for the trip,” said David Davitaia, a Junior Gladiators basketball player majoring in Business Administration. “I think it would have been a good opportunity for the teams to get together since most of the team changes every semester because of the turnover of students abroad.”
Another basketball player and Sophomore Business Administration student, Noam Yawetz, said he had not signed up for the event because the trip would be too close to the midterms period and students “preferred to study that weekend.”
Both Davitaia and Yawetz said they would sign up should the university arrange the event again, perhaps at a more convenient time and with earlier notice. The basketball team was informed three weeks before the trip by their coach, according to Yawetz.
“I don’t know why there were not many registrations,” said the Head Coach of the Basketball team, Jose Cano. “I don’t have any information about that, but the event would have been a terrific opportunity for the team to all get together. I was really excited,” he said.
JCU Associated Professor of Psychology at JCU Paola Castelli was contacted for her opinion about what this type of retreat might have represented for students, especially after the pandemic period. Professor Castelli said the pandemic has changed the way we look at social interactions, such as a simple handshake or a hug.
The weekend away would have given students a chance to connect in a “safe environment,” said Casatelli, and get reacquainted with pre-pandemic norms of social interaction. Participation in group activities, especially in sports, helps students increase their degree of self-esteem, and enables them to learn or define several important skills, like emotion regulation, teamwork, perseverance and conflict resolution, she said.
After the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a slight increase in requests for tryouts, according to Menculini. This year, the Volleyball, Basketball and Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams averaged at least five additional tryout registrations compared to 2019.
“We will try to reorganize the retreat. Now we know the points to work on,” Menculini said.
On Wednesday, Nov. 2, the “derby” game between JCU and The American University of Rome futsal teams was held at the Trastevere Stadium. An event attended by over 100 spectators and with much engagement in the stands, according to Iorio. The game was coupled with the performance from the Cheerleading team and the Maximus Mascot.
Spring 2023 holds new events for the Gladiators with emphasis on the various sports championships but also on recreational activities, such as kick boxing and yoga classes. The Athletics Department is working for the start of the season, highlighting the opening game of the Soccer Championship with the participation of Cheerleaders and pizza parties.
Concerning a potential future retreat, Menculini said they will look for a time and date that will not impact academic commitments.
Contact the JCU Athletics Department at: email@example.com or +39 06 68 191 266.