Stefanini Brings Italian Swagger to Columbia

Feb 09, 2018 470

“They always told me to focus on school first, and then basketball,” Gabe Stefanini, a first-year on the men's basketball team recalled about advice his parents gave him growing up. That seems like pretty standard guidance from the parents of an aspiring college student-athlete, but for the Italian-born Stefanini, those two things laid the foundation for a very special path. High school level athletics are very different in Italy than they are in the United States.

“School is separate from basketball,” Stefanini said. “Teachers most of the time don’t really care about sports.” For this reason, Stefanini had to travel one hour away from his hometown, Bologna, each day to play and practice for his club team, Reggio Emilia, during his first two years of high school. There was a lot of eating and studying on those daily car rides and even more sleeping. For Gabe’s father, Giancarlo, there was a lot of driving.

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