St. Olaf University Women’s Hockey Team Experiences La Dolce Vita
When Head Coach John Bazzachini decided to take his Women’s Hockey Team to Europe this summer his first thought was to contact his buddy Brad Brad Doshanan and Ex-Minnesota Gopher who spent over 30 years playing for, coaching, and managing Teams in Italy, England, and Switzerland. ‘John Bazzachini’ knew that ‘Brad Doshan’ had started Eurosportours 12 years ago which specializes in bringing North American Teams to Italy and Switzerland. John Bazzachini felt this could be a great trip for his players, staff, and parents but wasn’t sure about the level of play they would face. When Brad Doshan guaranteed him the playing field would be level and competitive and he took a look at the itinerary, the decision was made and the rest was well as they say in Italy; storia (history).
The St. Olaf group arrived in Milan, Italy and were quickly whisked off to Lake Como to a Four Star Hotel and a brief tour of quite possibly one of the most beautiful venues in all of Europe.
Unbeknownst to the average layman, Como has been the summer playground for the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Elton John, Madonna, Bruce Springsten, Robert De Niro, and most recently George Clooney. Lake Como is just North of Milan and set in the heart of the Alps one mile from the Swiss border. The Lake is lined with pastel colored 16-18th Century Villas, spectacular gardens, islands, stunning landscapes, and sunsets. With 85 degree weather and sunshine, everybody was impacted by the sheer beauty and magical aura that surrounds this area, not to mention a 3 course Italian Dinner at a mountain restaurant overlooking the lake.
The following day the group toured Como and then were off to Lugano, Switzerland to play the Ex-Swiss Champions Ladies Lugano Women’s Hockey Team in a two game Challenge Cup Series. Despite a hard fought 6-4 loss, the team and staff were impressed with the hockey and enthusiasm. Sharing a pasta after the game with the opposition team allowed for some very ‘interesting’ and ‘trying’ conversations!
The following day the team boarded a boat for a tour of world class Villas and town of Bellagio with the Guide Giusi and Sergio the Team Leader. As the players swam in this glacier lake the parents and staff were treated to yet another incredible three course lunch. Having had a taste of La Dolce Vita or ‘the sweet life’, the smiles stretched a kilometer wide and the ‘Americanos’ were in already enamored with this little ‘slice of paradise’.
Day three took the clan to Milano where they visited the Castle Sforzesco, the Duomo Cathedral, and San Babila and learned about this 5000 year old city which has become the Fashion Capital of the world. Day four sent the group to the Ligurian Coast where they boarded a private boat to Portofino, San Frutuoso and the fishing seaside town Camogli; one of Italy’s hidden treasures.
The trip started to wind down with a thrashing of the Weinfelden team and a trip to Lucern, a visit to the most amazing city on water Venice, followed by a daytrip to Lugano and the 2nd Challenge Cup game against Lugano where St. Olaf played an outstanding game only to come up short by a couple of goals. Even though St. Olaf deserved to win this game, the spirit of both teams surfaced with mutual hugs and email exchanges at the pizza party afterwards.
The finale came when Head Coach John Bazzachini asked his team to perform the St. Olaf Chant ‘ollalaa’ for his buddy Brad Doshan, Sergio, and Giusi at the group’s Last Supper (ah , actually LUNCH) and the entire restuarant staff followed with an applause. One Italian guest commented that it sounded like an Opera ..It’s not only the Italians who can boast of living the La Dolce Vita!!!