A tour of Milan’s historic sites, such as its splendid, Gothic-style cathedral, preceded the final match. Double-click and examine closely; a saint balances on every spire. Photo: Mary Tendler.
By Glenn Scott
The last full day of the Elon volleyball team’s journey in Italy brought more to learn.
First came a walking tour of Milan, with its history that began prior to the Romans and interesting elements from just about every century. Humbling might be a worthy term. Or impressive.
Our guide walked us through narrow streets, thankfully far away from the crowds of tourists and holiday shoppers, to little-noticed doors from medieval times and stone walls from earlier than that. The dramatic look and circular look-out towers of the castle reminded us that, even though Northern Italy fostered some of the most advanced civilizations, soldiers from competing regions still went on the attack. The human notes of the Renaissance did not preclude leaders from marching off to war.
To what extent, professors might ask, was the great art and architecture of these eras linked to power and the capacity to accumulate wealth?
At the arena
There was no missing the name of this nice arena. Yamamay is the name of a corporate sponsor.
Later, after a few big thoughts, the team rolled by bus to a suburb of Milan to play its final match against club team Regalati di Sorriso in a splendid dome itself, this one a fine bit of modern sporting architecture. The Pala Yamamay arena is the civic treasure of the community of Busto Arsizio. It featured a nice floor, excellent lighting, spacious locker rooms — even a separate practice gym tucked under one side of the dome.
The club team was equal to the arena. This was a team at the B-1 level — the highest rank below the professional level. In fact, this was something of a feeder program for the club’s own professional team. The players were young but excellent. Some were 19, and a couple of them admitted their goal is to reach a pro team relatively soon.
How much do you practice, I asked.
“Every day,” offered one of the stars. They usually trained, she said, for three or more hours.
The setting and the competition sparked Elon’s enthusiasm. The team made some errors, for sure. A few of the club players ripped some wicked, darting serves that kept our passers off-balance. But Elon responded with some of the most alert defense and bold hitting of the week. Head Coach Mary Tendler said she was happy with the effort throughout the match. Maybe it was the lighting, but the group looked sharper than in previous matches. The competition was that good.
Indeed, it was a sweep, to be expected (25-9, 25-14, 25-16).
They didn’t build Milan’s remarkable duomo in a week, either.
Spirits were as high as the elegant wooden domed ceiling as players assembled.