Baiguini and Santos add European flair to Patriots | Local sports in high school

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The boys footballers of Terre Haute Nord Nicola Baiguini and Esteban Tera Santos come from the world of football. Baiguni, from Italy, and Santos, from Spain, come from nations that eat, drink and breathe sport 24/7.

As foreign students, they came to a country that is starting to love football, but the sport is not woven into the fabric of everyday life like it is in Europe.

So far, however, both Patriots seem to be enjoying their American adventure – and they’re getting the job done on the pitch as well.

The two players each have three goals, behind Mason Meeks-Johnson’s total of seven goals for the Patriots team leader. Baiguini plays in the No.10 playmaker role and he has five assists, just behind Will Anders in total of six. Santos plays as a striker.

Baiguini is probably closer to the archetype of the European player who has played his entire life. He is from Lovere, Lombardy in northern Italy, and he played for local club, Alto Sebino. Football is his first love.

“I have been playing football since I was a kid, it’s my favorite sport. There is a big difference between here and there. I think here they are more fit for the physical form to run. Italy is more a question of technique, a big difference, but I liked it here, ”said Baiguini.

Santos, meanwhile, has a background in soccer, but it’s not his main sport. The Madrid native prefers a sport you can’t play in high school in Indiana.

“I don’t play soccer [in Spain], I play water polo. I played football for six years when I was little and I switched to water polo, it’s the sport I love the most. I grew up playing football, I love playing this sport and I could play it here, ”Santos said.

Proving his interest in water polo, when asked which club he supports in Madrid, he did not name Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid world-famous, he named his water polo club, IARA Antamira.

Aside from the culture shock of flying off to a foreign country, there is the same shock of seeing how the structure of sport works differently on each continent.

Here we have a disconnected ladder system. Traditionally, players of all sports have progressed from middle school, high school, college and pros and they drop where their skill level demands. Over the past quarter century, club sports have added an element, but for the most part, most children still record their athletic progress based on their place in the school pecking order until they are finished. ‘they have the chance to go pro.

In Europe (and South America) it’s completely different, it’s more of an internal scale system. There is no school sport at all. Players of all sports join clubs at beginner age, many local clubs like our high schools are here, and move up the ranks internally through their clubs. The most successful clubs have levels ranging from the youngest stage of development to the highest professional level.

“All the sports here are inside the school. In Italy? Everything is outside the school,” Baiguini said.

World famous footballer Lionel Messi, for example, joined his local club in Argentina at the age of 6 before moving to his future professional club Barcelona at the age of 14.

Where North Boys coach Tony Guevara saw the difference was in Baiguini’s approach to dealing with setbacks on the pitch.

“In my coaching I’ve always tried to start with constructive criticism and end with something positive, but Nicola got my attention a bit,” said Guevara.

“In Bloomington South he had a good shot, but he missed it. I told him it was a good shot and he said, ‘No it wasn’t. I should have done it. “I was like, ‘yes it was.’ After the game he said he didn’t want to be disrespectful, but the way he coached abroad the coaches are on him. Abroad they only get praise for the good things they do. I feel like we’re more rocked. We must be brought up and we don’t take criticism very well. It’s different for him, “said Guevara.

The same dynamic also works in interpersonal relationships between players.

“Nicola is very smart and reads the pitch very well. He will come and tell me that the players should do this or that. At first he would show the guys, call them sometimes. He didn’t do it to be mean, that is. is the culture he was raised in. I told him that’s not how it works here, it’s the coach who does that. He apologized for the way he acted, but he didn’t do anything wrong, that’s the culture he grew up in. The boys respect him for that, “Guevara said.

North’s second-year midfielder Jack Butwin agreed with Guevara’s assessment.

“They fit in perfectly. Their style of play is different, but it works very well. They have a lot of self-confidence. The way Nicola can place the ball is amazing. He can put it anywhere he wants,” said Butwin. .

Baiguini and Santos were asked about the difference they noticed. There have been things on the pitch, but what both said they liked was the off-pitch aspect where their classmates can be more directly involved in their athletic journey.

“We play fast, but here they want to play faster than us, but you have to adapt,” Santos said. “With the school and the friends involved, it surprised me in a good way.”

Baiguini and Santos are no doubt hoping that their American adventure will be crowned with a fun playoff race in October.


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