After leaving her professional team in Italy to take on college hoops, Marti Mosetti is finding her role at BC.
Andrea Pirlo spins the soccer ball in his hands and places it in the grass about 45 yards from the goal. He takes a couple steps back and signals to his teammates that he is ready to take the free kick. It is Jan. 11, a pleasant day in Turin, Italy, as Italian soccer giant Juventus matches up against Napoli. Pirlo strikes the ball, curling it through a mess of defenders and onto the head of his teammate Martin Caceres, who knocks it past the goalkeeper.
A few time zones away, another Italian is testing her craft in the sports world, this time in South Bend, Ind. Marti Mosetti, a freshman on the Boston College women’s basketball team, is receiving one of the toughest tests of her career as BC is trampled 104-58 against perennial powerhouse Notre Dame.
Despite the heavy loss, Mosetti displayed the same type of skills as Pirlo on that day: an uncanny ability to find the pass that cuts through the opposing defense.
Pirlo and Mosetti share the same national origin, jersey number (No. 21) and favorite soccer team (Juventus), but they also possess strikingly similar characteristics in their respective sports. Watch either player and you’ll note a variety of skills that make them stand out—composure and confidence on the ball, a knack for splitting defenses with well placed, passing and an unrivaled vision on the attack.
Thus, to learn of Mosetti—her playing style and disposition—look first at her Italian roots.
Growing up Italian
Mosetti grew up in Trieste, a medium-sized city in the northeast of Italy. She describes it as completely different from Boston, apart from the fact that the two cities are on the sea. She began playing basketball as a child, but quit after her team lost almost every game.
“I get very pissed when I lose in general,” Mosetti said.
From there she turned to gymnastics, but quit after she was told that she would become too tall. So she went back to basketball — a passion spurred by her grandfather. She credits a lot of her love for the sport to her grandfather’s influence, as he played the sport when he was younger. He took Mosetti to the basketball court and tought her certain fundamentals of the game.
As her development quickly progressed, Mosetti caught the eye of professional team Famila Schio, located just outside of Vicenza.
“I transferred to Vicenza when I was 16 or 17… it was a huge experience for my personal growth because I lived in my apartment by myself with one of my teammates who was the same age,” Mosetti said.
To most Americans this may seem odd, but the Europe sporting model is heavily focused on training, especially within the academy of professional teams. Players progress within the ranks of the professional team until they are ready to play for the first team. Mosetti maintained her amateur status in the eyes of the NCAA, even though she was playing professionally.
In her time with Famila Schio, Mosetti switched between playing with the first team and the development team, appearing in games for both.
As for her prowess at point guard, Mosetti also owes much to her two-year spell with Famila Schio. She said that she learned much from having to compete with players much her elder, who had a more experienced knowledge of the game.
Unsure of what she wished to do following the conclusion of high school, Mosetti lucked her way into BC program’s eyes. While playing for Famila Schio, Mosetti quickly formed a friendship with Kathrin Ress, a center for Famila Schio and former Eagle. Mosetti often found herself playing with Ress’ kids, and Ress took the opportunity to plug her alma mater. She contacted the BC coaching staff, set up a Skype call between parties and ultimately convinced Mosetti to become an Eagle.
She knew little of teams and divisions in NCAA basketball, but the recommendation from Ress was enough to convince her to commit to the Heights.
Moving from Coast to Coast
Mosetti rushed from city to city, taking exams and acquiring a visa before she eventually flew over to Boston to start her freshman year.
“When I got here, I wasn’t really even able to speak,” Mosetti said. “I learned English just by living here. It was hard in the beginning just because it was completely different.”
Mosetti came to America knowing only the spare English she had learned in a classroom setting. Within two months, speaking English became less of a worry for Mosetti. Despite not knowing much of the language, she already had an active social life. In fact, she was so tired at one point that she forced herself to take a step back and focus on basketball, school, and her close friends.
“It’s really hard coming across an ocean, but Marti has a couple things going for her,” head coach Erik Johnson said. “One is her personality—she is very easy to talk to, she makes friends easily, she is outgoing. Then from the academic side … she is such a good student—she is highly intelligent.”
Mosetti quickly bonded with fellow freshman teammate and Nigerian native Ella Awobajo, since they are the only two foreigners on the basketball team.
“Marti is a freshman, but I look up to that girl in so many ways,” Awobajo said. “She is so experienced in the game and she is always positive.”
On the court, Mosetti has had to make a few adjustments, but she has recently cemented her name in the starting lineup as a freshman. She noted the fast-paced, athletic nature of the American game as something that have forced her to make slight changes in her style of play.
“Here I have to be more careful about the plays because obviously everyone is more athletic,” she said. “So everyone can put pressure and you have to be more careful about passing the ball and stuff. In Italy, we care more about the technique or systems. We barely run a coast to coast play.”
Johnson remembered Mosetti’s first taste of American basketball, a road game at Stanford. Hopping out of the locker room, she stood in awe of the filled stands, dancing tree, and band. She called her mom, amazed, thinking she was in some sort of movie. Mosetti had six turnovers that game.
With a few more games under her belt, Mosetti began to adapt to the American game, but without losing a European flair.
Mosetti is averaging 2.24 assists per game, but that number looks to grow as she continues to play more and more minutes. While she may play like Pirlo, she has yet to acquire the experience of the 35-year-old. But with a regular starting position established, and three more years as an Eagle, Mosetti has time to live up to that No. 21 jersey.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor