It has been an incredible blessing to experience the moments we have so far in Italy as a team. The opportunity to see the Pantheon, Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica to this point has been a once in a lifetime experience. I grew up in a Catholic family and have thought a lot about my family, especially my grandparents. They would have loved seeing this Holy city and walking the streets Peter and Paul may have walked on and listening to the historical significance of all the ancient buildings. The detail and amount of time it took to finish some of these structures is incredible.
As I was reading today, I came across this quote, “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” These artists and builders had to have the Spirit working within them to do such amazing work. We talk a lot to our team about working for something greater than ourselves and this experience has showed that to me, especially our trip to the Colosseum on Day 3.
We had another really good breakfast at the hotel in which the omelet I had was outstanding. I did not let Big Rob Marberry talk me into multiple expresso shots like he did the day before and I was off to a much better start. We rode the bus 15 minutes over to the Colosseum and I was blown away by how old and how big it really was.
Our tour guide Flavia gave us great information about the history of the Colosseum, which was started in AD 72 and took many years to complete. It is the largest amphitheater ever built, and could hold an estimated 50,000-80,000 spectators. It was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, and re-enactments of famous battles.
After our tour of the Colosseum, Flavia took us to the Roman Forum where many of the public buildings are still preserved. She talked about the Roman Empire, the Temples, and the history of the city of Rome. Here Julius Caesar was cremated in 29 BC and Augustus raised a Temple in 44 BC that has some columns that are still preserved. I mean, we’re talking BC, that is unreal!
I spoke with each member of our basketball team to get some feedback on the Colosseum or anything else that has stood out from the trip and got some good feedback:
Jackson Strates – “I had no idea there was an awning on top of the Colosseum at one point.”
Jake Wolfe – “The Colosseum was insane, I related well to it because of it being sports related.”
Garrison Mathews – “That thing was exhilarating.”
Zach Flener – “I love hearing about old Rome and places like the Colosseum, how advanced they were for their time, and the marble streets are awesome.”
Andrew Fleming – “It took such a long time to build Rome. There was a lot of trial and error but they kept at it.
Kenny Cooper – “I am amazed at how old the buildings are.”
Ahsan Asadullah – “I was amazed at the complexity and detail of the Coliseum.”
Eli Pepper – “It’s so hard not to say the guy across the street, that guy scared me, I felt like I was in a movie.”
Nate Moran – “I loved the Colosseum and had no idea they brought people and animals up from underground.”
Rob Marberry – “The water fountains and natural springs underneath are cool.”
Alex Jones – “The ruins stand out to me and it’s amazing they’ve lasted this long.”
Greg Jones – “All I know is I’m going to be slick high key lit tonight at the game.”
Matt Rose – “I really wish the big wall wouldn’t have fallen down so I could see how big the Colosseum really was.”
Michael Buckland – “I wish the ruins of the city were still intact so we can see what it really looked like.”
After our tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, we went back to the hotel to rest and grab some lunch. Will Ness, our athletic trainer, and I walked too far to get some pizza near the Spanish steps. We then boarded the bus for a 15-minute drive over to the gym for our first game of the trip against Stella Azzurra, a Division 3 team in Italy. We started off slow, battling jet lag, four days off, a hot gym, a slippery Italian ball, and mosquitos. We struggled with turnovers and poor shot selection in the first quarter and were down 20-8.
Although we started slow, one constant with this team is that we play hard and it paid off in the 2nd quarter. There were several effort-plays that got us going on the defensive end and it led to some easy transition scores. Our point guard trio of Kenny Cooper, Nate Moran, and Alex Jones did a nice job of finding open teammates in transition. We had a stretch of nine straight defensive stops and held Stella Azzurra to only six points in the 2nd quarter, taking a 36-26 lead at the break.
The 3rd quarter started out much like the 1st with some sloppy play. We struggled to find rhythm offensively, but our effort defensively helped keep the lead, finishing the quarter with a 43-38 lead. We raised our level of defensive effort once again in the 4th. Greg Jones, true to his “slick high key lit” comment earlier in the day, had a couple nice transition lay-ups to get the bench going.
The group of Alex Jones, Andrew Fleming, Greg Jones, Jake Wolfe, and Jaxson Strates had a nice stretch of play, bringing energy and effort to finish out the game. The final score was 54-41 in favor of the Purple and Gold. We held Stella Azzurra to 21 points over the final 30 minutes of play and the coaching staff was very pleased with the defensive effort.
Quotes of the Day:
Flavia - “I have been talking to you for three days about all this history here in Rome and the best reaction you have is for this headless guy across the street.”
Will Ness – As we were walking down the streets of Rome, many people came up and tried to sell us stuff. After about the 10th time Will walked by someone trying to sell him something, he looked at me and mentioned – “There are some perks to my personality,” and then shrugged his shoulders.
Jake Wolfe – “Is Greece in Italy?”
Multiple guys on our team – “Why is it called the Sixteenth Chapel?”