New program brings athletes across borders

The NYU Men’s varsity basketball team recently traveled to Italy, kickstarting the university’s new program, TeamNYUGlobal Initiative: Education, Service and Sport.

The pilot initiative, launched earlier this summer, will allow varsity athletes to serve as NYU ambassadors and travel to a foreign country to volunteer at local organizations, conduct a clinic for their sports, play local teams and do a little sightseeing.

The team traveled to Rome, Venice, Milan and Florence on their 10-day trip in August. Prior to the trip, the athletes took Italian culture and language classes that the program provides in partnership with the NYU Director of Language Programs and the Department of Italian Studies.

The trip took 18 months of planning by the Department of Athletics, Division of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost.

Every varsity athlete can expect to go on a trip once throughout their four years from this program. Following NCAA rules, the trips can only be done during breaks in the year. Additionally, the sport must be in season in the global site for the competition aspect of the program to happen.

“I’m very happy the university is supporting it,” said Christopher Bledsoe, director of Athletics, Intramural and Recreation. “It is an absolutely unique program and NYU is uniquely positioned to do it with its global network.”

The basketball team was accompanied by NYU Athletics coaches and staff, as well as their Italian instructors on the trip. In Rome, their first stop, the team played the All-Star Italy team. The Violets played a close game, ending the first half 38-25, but failed to capture the match losing 71-65 in the end.

But Rome was not all about basketball. The team had time to visit the Vatican, the Colisseum, the Roman Forum and St.Peter’s Basillica, getting the opportunity to undertake extensive language and culture instruction and apply their knowledge during their travels.

“We have really taken advantage of being in another country together whether it’s going out to amazing Italian dinners, exploring cities on bikes and segways, or touring some of the most famous places in the world,” Stern senior Cory Stockmal said.

Cory’s brother and Stern senior Kyle Stockmal said he thought the highlight of the trip was one of their community service projects at Camp Dynamo, a cost-free camp for terminally ill children under 18. The Violets volunteered their time helping clean up the grounds, after which they had lunch, played games and dancing with the children.

“They were so happy to see us, and it made it really special,” Kyle said.

On Aug. 20, the Violets played the Pallacanestro Firenze team in Florence, and Coach Joe Nesci conducted an afternoon clinic for 50 Italian coaches and local teens. NYU has partnered with the International School of Florence and the Comune di Firenze to conduct this clinic as well as other clinics when the other varsity teams visit Florence in the future.

The team also toured the NYU Florence, which has a new program with Camp Dynamo, where students studying abroad at the La Pietra campus can volunteer.

While in Venice, the Violets played Tosoni Basket Villafranca on Aug. 22. The last leg of the tour was in Lake Como, near the northern border of Italy. The Violets played Interperformance Selezione on their last day in Italy on Aug. 23.

Cory had a positive outlook on the future of the team as a result of the trip.

“I think we’re creating very tight bonds that will really improve our team chemistry and our performance this season,” he said.


A version of this story appeared in the Aug. 26 print edition. Mary Jane Dumankaya is a deputy sports editor. Email her at [email protected]