Wednesday, August 12, 2020

BYU volleyball’s Italy native Davide Gardini grapples with COVID-19 aftermath

Leer en español: Davide Gardini, jugador de voleibol de BYU de nacionalidad Italiana, lucha con las secuelas de COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected every BYU student in some way as classes have transitioned online and students have been encouraged to return to their permanent homes.

BYU volleyball’s Davide Gardini has had to deal with extra stress and heartache over the past two weeks as he has watched his home country of Italy go on lockdown and BYU’s volleyball season come to an abrupt end.

The sophomore has watched from over 5000 miles away as his family and friends have been confined to their homes during the national quarantine. Although he could go home, he knows that wouldn’t be the best idea. He said the current situation in Italy is much worse than what people can imagine based on what they’ve seen on social media.

“It’s tough for me being here, knowing that I’m not able to help them if they need help,” Gardini said. “There’s not much that I can do from here, so I just try to be supportive. I call them a little more on the phone and talk about my day here because we’re lucky that we can still go around.”

Concerns for his family’s health and safety were pushed to the forefront after the volleyball season was cut short. When Italy was first put on lockdown, the Cougars had just been ranked No. 1 and were ready to continue their season and work toward the NCAA tournament. Volleyball kept Gardini busy enough that the situation in his hometown wasn’t affecting him much.

“I was like, ‘They’re in a bad situation, but I’m not too worried, it’s gonna get better.’ But then the season got shut down here,” Gardini said. “It just got a little worse for me. Not being able to do anything and then having to deal with that is even worse.”

Italian native Davide Gardini stands on the Smith Fieldhouse court, the same court that he and his teammates recorded a perfect 9-0 home record. (Anna Brower)

The sudden end of the season was a major disappointment for the entire team. They knew something was going to happen, and even joked about the season ending, but the actual cancellation of the remaining games and tournament was unexpected and painful.

“It was bad,” Gardini said. “It was heartbreaking for all of us. In addition to what I was already feeling because of my parents and my family, that happened, and it made everything worse.”

This season was special for Gardini and the rest of the team because of the team culture they worked to create.

“Everyone wanted to win, from the head coach to the last guy that was redshirting,” Gardini said. “We were all involved, and that was an amazing thing. Being on the court, I will always hear the guys from the bench supporting us, and that was amazing. When you have your teammates supporting you like that, that makes a big difference.”

The Cougars had the second best start in BYU history with a record of 17-0 until their last match against Hawaii, which they lost in five sets. BYU had a .361 hitting percentage, the second highest in the country, and averaged 12.97 kills per set. They led the country in blocks per set, with 2.95, and 13 of BYU’s 17 wins were against top 15 teams.

Gardini is using the Cougars’ successful season to stay motivated and to keep positive as he takes the remainder of the semester one day at a time, not knowing when he will be able to return home.

“One thing that’s keeping me motivated is the season we had,” Gardini said. “That was something amazing for us, so we know we can do it again next year. It’s very far from now, but it’s just something that I keep thinking of, like, ‘Hey, we’re going to come back next year and work even harder. And we’re going to do it again.’ So that’s one thing that is keeping me positive right now.”

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