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“There are many aspects that struck me about this nation. What surprised me the most is the weight they give to meritocracy: if you give a lot, you receive a lot and this pushes me to give my best every day. In the academic field I like the availability of the professors to help you without problems, how the study load is divided throughout the semester avoiding you to study huge books in a month. The secret is that school and sports in the United States are moving in the same direction. Sport and study go hand in hand and this makes it easier to manage everything.”

Clear ideas, words and the concept of meritocracy as one of the aspects that struck him the most. Luciano Bucci, Student-Athlete at Park University, begins by emphasizing one of the aspects that we often find ourselves repeating: studying and playing sports at the same time is possible, at least in America. Obviously, it takes passion, determination and sacrifice: “My typical day starts with the alarm clock at 7.30 am. I get ready and go to class from 8 to 12, immediately after the lessons I eat in the canteen for lunch, after lunch I study until the 4 that I have trained. At the end of the session around 7.00 am, space for dinner and then either study or relax with my roommates. This is from Monday to Friday every day.”

A full week for sure, but often the sacrifice is rewarded by many emotions: “My first year and a half in the United States was very satisfying both academically and sportingly. My most emotional moments were three in particular: last year when I received the award during the Conference Finals banquet as one of the best setters in the conference; to have played in a Conference Finals during my first ever U.S. championship and academically to be named one of the best college students at the end of my freshman year.”

Another country, another volleyball. This comparison with a technique and methodology different from the Italian one is also a further moment of growth for Luciano: “In the United States we play volleyball based a lot on the physical and not so much on the technique that in Italy was the basis of the teams in which I played, moreover being a setter I had to change my way of playing having to adapt to a much faster game than what I was used to. As far as training is concerned, what I can say is that we take a lot of care in the game phase, leaving out, as already mentioned, all those useful exercises to improve technique, plus they care a lot about physical endurance and before each workout we spend 45/60 minutes in the weight room. All this made the impact with American volleyball not the best, but thanks to my coaches I was able to get used to it immediately.

As far as the academic side is concerned, I am managing to maintain the average of 4.0 (the grade point average (GPA) It is calculated by taking into account the credits of each course and the grade expressed in numbers. The grade point average is on a scale from 0 to 4.0), and I was included for the third time in a row in the Dean List, which is a list where there are all students with an average of 3.6 and up. I also consider the sporting field positive, a little more with ups and downs, but in the end I managed to take away some satisfaction.”

Sports experience, life experience: “This was the first time away from friends, relatives and it wasn’t easy because I had to rebuild everything from scratch. From one day to the next I found myself miles away from home with no points of reference. It wasn’t easy at the beginning, but over time my university and teammates helped me a lot! Now I’m definitely a much more serious and responsible guy than before. From a sporting point of view, I have become a better teammate than I was when I was in Italy. I used to think much more about appearing as an individual than as a group. As far as I’m concerned, this adventure opens up new horizons, introducing you to places and people of different ethnicities and cultures: all this makes you grow as a person.”