New Leicester Blue Sox manager Giovanni Ciotti was recently interview by American website www.mywrestlingroom.com. Find out why below, there is more to Gio than just Baseball!
Reading on the Leicester Blue Sox website it mentioned that you have 15 years of baseball and wrestling experience. How did it all start for you?
It started for me as the oldest of five children in a working-class family in Western Pennsylvania. Ever since I could remember, I was wrestling and playing baseball with my brother, neighborhood kids, and on local teams. I guess you could say I fell into a leadership role at young age from all of these things. I would often be the one bringing younger kids along, teaching rules and techniques, and leading whichever team I was competing on.
Wrestling in “PA”, things were intense to say the least. There was lots of pressure during the weekly tournaments and matches. The peak of my entire wrestling career was probably at age 10 or 12, which is strange, but true. I was wrestling 40+ weeks per year at that point and wasn’t losing very much – if at all. I had won several different national championship events and made a name for myself in the sport. By the time I entered high school, I was still competing at a high level, but definitely wasn’t as passionate about wrestling as people I was competing against. I won most of my matches, but it was more like a job than a fun activity. It certainly was a lesson in moderation that I carry with me to this day as both a coach and parent.
Did you ever coach wrestling whilst you were in America?
My first official paid coaching job was at age 20. I had wrestled two years in NCAAs and was really burnt out from competing in the sport. During my 2nd year at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, I offered to volunteer on the high school team in my hometown. My brothers were there and the team seemed to need the technical support and energy I could bring. Giving back like this definitely relit my ‘fire’ for the sport and is something which is still with me today in all of the sports I am involved in.
What do you think to the English wrestling scene?
Wrestling in England surprised me this past month. I honestly had no idea it was here in any level, but was happy to have found British Wrestling through a friend of mine. He dared me to enter an open tournament last weekend in Derbyshire and I reluctantly did. It was my first time competing in freestyle wrestling in 9-10 years! At this event, I saw number of British youth teams and adults wrestling. It was truly a lovely welcome to the UK and the hosts of the tournament and British Wrestling was great. I also happened to win 4 freestyle matches against younger opponents and win a gold medal! How that happened, I don’t know… but at 35, I’ll take it home, let my daughter wear it around the house.
Do you think it will ever catch on like other American sports?
I believe it can catch on. It will be a matter of schools promoting it and communities really buying into the values it can teach young people. Few sports teach will, determination, and overcoming adversity like wrestling can.
At the moment, I am working with baseball and wrestling on regional and national levels in England – playing whatever role I can as an ambassador, coach, and development officer for these two sports. While baseball is more marketable in many ways and has great social values that it can offer young people and adults – I believe wrestling has a higher ceiling in England. Where baseball (and softball) have cricket to contend with here in the UK, wrestling really doesn’t have a nationally dominant game to compete with.
At the end of the day, I’d love nothing more than to see both sports give people here one healthier, positive outlet to be involved in – something more needed today than ever. No society ever hurt itself by adding a healthy outlet for its people.
I am also currently in touch with British Wrestling and helping with a new wrestling club in Leicester.
Do you ever miss the wrestling scene in America?
I moved to England at the end of this summer to remain a daily part of my daughter’s life. It was an easier decision than one may think, as I’ve lived in England before (Oxford & London) and have always been interested in the school and sports systems here. Having the opportunity to see the freestyle wrestling in London at the 2012 Olympics won’t be a bad thing either. I already have a group of guys I worked with from the Colorado Wrestling Officials Association (CWOA - www.cwoa.us) coming over to stay with me next August to take in the sport of wrestling on the world’s biggest stage.
Part of me definitely does miss the wrestling scene in the U.S. I have enjoyed coaching and officiating wrestling in the U.S. for the past 15 years. I actually thought that this would be the first winter since age 4 that I would not be involved in wrestling in some capacity. Between British Wrestling and the Leicester Blue Sox, I guess the right things have a way of finding you at the right time.