By Brian Benson, Bridgewater State University News
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Courtney Banzi, ’19, admits she was a little nervous about venturing abroad for a recent softball trip to Italy. But, the outfielder’s uneasiness disappeared like a home run sailing over the outfield fence.
“I really tried to embrace speaking their language,” she said of the 10-day trip with USA Premier Softball. “I just wanted to be immersed in that culture by speaking and learning everything that I could.”
Courtney, who tapped into savings and work earnings to fund the trip, did as much off the field as on. She climbed 400 steps to take in the picturesque view from atop Torre del Mangia in Siena, gazed at the Coliseum, and explored the caves and clear waters of the Mediterranean. She even saw colorful coral.
“The views are breathtaking,” said the Plymouth North High School graduate, who recently completed her career with the Bridgewater State University softball team. “There were no words to describe what I saw.”
And, of course, Courtney also had the unique opportunity to play the sport she loves against – and with – players from another country. The American team competed four times against their Italian counterparts. Courtney switched sides for one game playing with the Italians.
The players had help from a translator, but Courtney also learned Italian words, including how to count the number of outs and “thank you.” And, many Italian players knew English.
“It was awesome,” she said of the multicultural softball experience.
Courtney, the oldest player on a team that ranged from 14 to 22, became a mother figure to the younger players. She also learned more about her ability to mentor others, a skill that will be helpful as the math and secondary education major prepares to become a teacher.
“I realized how much people look up to me and that I’m a natural leader,” she said.
And, the one-time nervous tourist returned to the United States having caught the travel bug.
“It made me realize that there’s more to life than just Massachusetts,” she said. “There are a lot more things out there to explore.”