Battistotti Leads Yellowjackets Into New Norm
Luca Battistotti earned Second Team All-GNAC honors in 2019 as the Yellowjackets ranked second in the conference with six shutouts and third with 24 goals allowed.
Luca Battistotti earned Second Team All-GNAC honors in 2019 as the Yellowjackets ranked second in the conference with six shutouts and third with 24 goals allowed.
Luca Battistotti
Luca Battistotti

Monday, September 21, 2020
by Kaho Akau, GNAC Media Relations Assistant

BILLINGS, Mont. – Luca Battistotti didn’t get the summer vacation that he hoped for.

As the COVID-19 outbreak began to take the world by storm in the spring, the Montana State Billings senior defender yearned for his hometown of San Rocco al Porto, Italy. His travel plans for the summer came to a halt, however, as Italy saw an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases. With everything at risk, he made the difficult decision to stay in Billings after the spring semester ended.

“It has been hard to not be able to see my family, especially during these times, but it was safer for me to stay here in Billings,” Battistotti said.

Battistotti’s family has not been affected by the disease but a few friends of the family unfortunately died due to COVID-19-related symptoms. Wanting nothing but to be near his loved ones again, he does whatever it takes to stay positive during a year that has so far brought so much uncertainty.

“I was especially scared for my grandparents,” he said. “Not being home with my family and friends has been tough and I’m always looking forward to seeing them again.”

Montana State Billings shifted to a completely online curriculum in the spring, but as the number of COVID-19 cases remains relatively low statewide, the university is offering in-person classes this fall.

Of course, there are still guidelines that need to be followed on campus such as wearing masks and social distancing. In-person class sizes have even been reduced. Battistotti explained that his largest class size is seven students. It’s not much but it’s one step closer to normality.

“It is important to have in-person instruction,” he said. “In the spring, my professors did a good job of finding ways to make online classes engaging but I find face-to-face learning to be much more interesting and constructive.”

Battistotti’s journey from Italy to Billings was motivated by both soccer and academics. The university system in Italy is different and education and athletics are often separated. When Battistotti was a senior in high school, he felt like he had to choose between continuing his studies or playing soccer. Then he learned about collegiate sports in the U.S.

Although he was more than 5,000 miles away from Italy, Battistotti soon realized that he wasn’t alone. The Yellowjacket men’s soccer program has attracted a lot of international players in recent memory. This year’s squad has eight, all of whom hail from Europe.

“The U.S. interested me because I could play soccer and get a degree at the same time,” he said. “The MSUB soccer program convinced me the most and our business school is nationally recognized. There are people from all over the world on our team and it’s interesting to see the differences in our cultures. At the same time, we are all around the same age and have a lot in common despite being from different places.”

Battistotti immediately solidified himself as a valuable member of the team during his freshman campaign. His first collegiate goal was an overtime game-winner against nationally-ranked Upper Iowa.

As a sophomore, he sprained his ankle two matches into conference play and was forced to play the rest of the season while nursing a nagging injury.

Now a four-year starter for the Yellowjackets, he enters his third year as the team captain after earning Second Team All-GNAC honors in 2019. He is also a member of the MSUB Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and a two-time Academic All-GNAC selection. He looks to graduate with a degree in business administration management with a minor in marketing.

“Luca is someone who gives it his all on the field and in the classroom,” second-year head coach Thomas Chameraud said. “He represents all of the values that we try to live up to as a program and loves to be involved in the Billings community. He bleeds blue and yellow.”

Having a good mentality is an underrated but essential characteristic for any student-athlete to have and Battistotti is the epitome of a leader. Whether he’s locked in for a complete 90-minute match on the pitch or taking the time to stop and reflect on the obstacles that 2020 has thrown at him, he does everything with a purpose.

“I think we all need to see the world differently now,” Battistotti said. “The world has changed and it has affected our lives. Until we get back to normal, it’ll be hard to plan the future because everything changes so quickly.”