Gasbarri brings Italian passion to Lamar track team
Federico Gasbarri runs cross-country — literally. His love of running and competition started when he was a young boy in his home country of Chieti, Italy.
“When I was around 12-years old, my professor at school asked me if I wanted to try a cross-country competition,” he said. “I just went there and tried. Even though I was like ninth of 10 in the school, I really liked it. My professor was also involved in track and field for a club. I asked him to start running. He brought me to the stadium and made me enroll in his track club and I just started running since then.”
Gasbarri moved to the U.S. when then coach Darren Gauson recruited him to the Lamar track team in 2014.
“At the beginning, I thought it was a joke,” he said. “The coach texted me on Facebook and I thought it was a sort of prank, and then my friend convinced me it wasn’t. We eventually Skyped and I got an idea of how the system is different here.”
Now a junior, Gasbarri said that he quickly found out running in the United States was different.
“One of the differences is, that back in Italy I use to run for a club and go to a university, and it was very difficult to do both things together,” he said. “You don’t have practice scheduled. I decided to move because it would be easier to continue my sport.”
Although attending school and running is easier in the U.S., the Southeast Texas climate took some getting used to, Gasbarri said.
“The climate is very different, I feel like Texas doesn’t have a big difference between seasons,” he said. “Right now, we’re still in winter and it’s over 50 degrees. But, when I was back home for Christmas there was snow and it was, like, zero degrees. The weather is very different, and in March and April, it’s very hot and humid here. It makes it challenging to run.”
While running in the hot muggy weather of Southeast Texas is harder, maintaining classes and practices are easier, Gasbarri said.
“My first year in a university back home was way more challenging, because the sport wasn’t included in the university,” he said. “Coming here was actually easier than back home. Here, we wake up very early and have our first practice, and then we go to class, have lunch, class again or practice, depending on the day. In the evening we study and go to bed.”
Before being recruited to Lamar, Gasbarri placed in the European under 20 championship and won two Italian championships. He continues to set records and win trophies for his team.
“I was runner-up in spring 2015 for the 1,500 and this past season I was also the runner-up for cross-country,” he said.
Despite all his medals, Gasbarri said his best moment was winning the 2016 Southland Conference Cross-Country Championship team trophy with Lamar. He had been on the winning team before, but this time he was a key factor in the win.
“I was really happy to help the team win this trophy, because my teammates and I live together and we spent two or three months of last season getting up early and going for a run, and then going back home and doing everything in function of running, meaning eating healthy, too,” he said. “We did all these things together and then we got to experience that moment all together.”
The winning feeling is like an addiction, Gasbarri said.
“It’s a lot of effort you put in, but whenever you win a race or break your personal record, you just see the improvement and you are very satisfied,” he said. “You get addicted to that feeling and you want to do better. It’s sort of like a life lesson. If you want to achieve something you have to put effort into it.”
Gasbarri said that his tough mentality comes from setting his own goals for every season and just going for them.
“I just try to get out the door, start running and thinking about my goals,” he said. “You have to be aware that it’s not easy and you have to do that every day. You have to do that consistently, so one day you can’t just say, ‘I don’t feel like going out today, it’s too hot or too cold,’ because the next day you are probably going to regret it or at the end of the season when you don’t achieve your goal. It’s just a matter of setting the right goals and doing all you can to achieve them.”
Gasbarri said his goals for the rest of the season are to medal in the outdoor SLC conference championship and set a personal record for the indoor season of 3:45 in the mile.
Last spring, Gasbarri was placed on the Outdoor All Southland Conference Second Team for the 1,500, had a season-best time of 3:49:41, and took second place at the Louisiana Classic in the 800-meter run, along with many other awards and honors.
With another year of running collegiately ahead of him, Gasbarri said he is not sure if a career on the track is in his future.
“I would like to try and keep running, but I am not sure if I am going to be able to,” he said. “Especially if I want to stay here, because I am probably going to have to find a job one day. I just don’t think I have the right requisites to run professionally. I can try, but it’s very competitive and difficult to get in. To be honest, I just want to stay here and visit more of the U.S to see different states. I see more opportunity here to do great things.”
Gasbarri and the track and field teams will move to the Southland Conference Championships Indoor competition in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday.
UP staff writer