The most unassuming Olympian


Picture an Olympian: tall, muscled, toned, fierce.

When many people picture an Olympian, they undoubtedly envision the likes of Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas, Usain Bolt or Sanya Richards-Ross. They think of the perfect scores, the medals, the hype, the fame. There are many Olympians, however, that go about their business much more quietly and with much less attention.

Guiseppe Vinci is one of those Olympians.

Vinci is perhaps most well-known on campus amongst avid volleyball fans as the “Italian guy who wears really cool glasses and is always typing furiously on his laptop during games.”

But there is more to Vinci than the glasses and the occasional mustache. Vinci has been a technical assistant for the BYU men’s and women’s volleyball teams since 2008; this year, he will only be assisting the men’s team. He is a native of Milan, Italy, a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a temple worker and has represented two different countries at two different Olympic games. On top of all that, he is a full-time undergraduate student majoring in recreation management and double minoring in business and music.

In 2008, Vinci was the technical coordinator for the Italian men’s national team that finished fourth at the Beijing Olympics. This summer, Vinci filled the same role with the U.S. women’s team that took silver at the London Olympics.

As a technical assistant for BYU and the two Olympic teams he has been a part of, Vinci is an integral part of the coaching staffs, as he attends practices and games, assists coaches based on his knowledge of other teams and attends all team-building activities.

“To put it simply, I’m keeping stats,” Vinci said with a chuckle. “Yes, we keep track of numbers but we keep track of so many details that it’s not merely ‘keeping stats.’ We could tell you how many times a team runs a certain play and end up setting a specific person, what person in a specific situation will be most likely to hit the ball, or who is most likely to be set if a certain person is passing the first ball. We can go very in-depth.”

Vinci’s statistical knowledge helped him land his position with both the Italian and U.S. Olympic teams. Experiences, he said, he will never forget.

“(The Olympics) were probably one of the best experiences I’ll ever have in my life, second hopefully to some I’ll have in the future,” Vinci said. “But just being there and representing your country and being proud to be there is amazing.”

Though coaching staff weren’t allowed to walk in the Opening Ceremonies in London, Vinci had the opportunity to walk in the Opening Ceremonies with the Italian team in 2008 in Beijing.

“I have goosebumps right now just thinking about it,” Vinci said. “I can picture it in my mind. And we were so excited. They were excited. The people in the stadium were excited. And you realize you’re just representing something that means hope in a lot of hearts around the world. It represents something that is not merely a competition: it’s the Olympic games. The spirit of the Olympics teaches you the importance is to participate, not to win.”

As for London, Vinci said being able to represent the United States as well as bringing home a silver medal made the games well worth it.

“It’s hard to say, because I still have to digest that we lost the final that way, but the highlight has to be just going undefeated to the gold medal match and bringing home a silver medal. We won a silver medal in the Olympic games and that’s pretty remarkable,” Vinci said. “I was really looking forward to being a part of Team USA and seeing how it is to participate in the Olympics with a team that doesn’t only want to win with each team, but wants to win the medal count. It’s pretty interesting.”

Vinci plans to graduate in April or June, at which time he hopes to continue his work with volleyball, which he has been involved with since the age of 12, or fill a position in sports administration. While Vinci would love to stay at BYU, he says he will do whatever is best for him in the long run.

“I definitely love BYU. I think there are great people. … If I get a chance to stay here, I would love to stay here,” Vinci said. “It just depends on what BYU volleyball can do. If they can manage to say, ‘hey, Giuseppe, we can give you a full-time job’ and it matches the needs I have at that time, then I’ll feel comfortable staying here because I love this place. But if there are places where it is more appropriate for me to go, for a better career chance, I think I’m ready to take what I’ve learned at BYU and go forth to serve.”

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