Earlier this month, Delia Zanoschi and Tum Preugpaibul (RCs) announced the winners of the inaugural HBS exceptional athlete awards, an initiative they started this year to recognize the best athletes at HBS. This week, Delia and Tum interviewed HBS Class of 2016 exceptional athlete winner Francesco Balestra.
FRANCESCO BALESTRA: SOCCER
SECTION F, NEW YORK, NY, USA
How did you train?
My father was an inspiration, and I owe my development to him as he trained me throughout my career. Without his dedication, devotion, and time, I wouldn’t have been able to play for my premier team in NY. This team was ranked in the top 64 teams in the country, and we competed against the US youth national team.
What is one of the greatest lessons that life taught you?
Something that I think is true in both life and soccer, is that there is always an element of luck. The thing is, you never know when that luck – that opportunity – is going to strike. However, when it does come, you have to be ready to execute. You have to have put in those hours to train and develop your skills so that you’re ready when that window arrives.
Who is your idol?
Alessandro Del Piero – he was the captain and one of the best players of my favorite soccer team, Juventus, while I was growing up. He was a great player and a great leader. He had a great attitude, was humble, and was very smart – I wanted to be just like him.
I learned the values of work ethic and commitment. You learn a lot about your body and yourself, how you perform mentally and physically when pushed to your limits. You also learn about other people from how they play – their style, their ability to handle pressure, their resiliency.
What you believe makes you successful?
I believe that in order to really make it in soccer there are definitely certain traits that you need to have – you have to be absolutely dedicated and hardworking, and you have to be a team player. I’ve known a lot of people with very good skills but they were not great team players, and they never make it far.
How do you want to be remembered?
A person who was always happy and made people around them happy as well, surrounded by good friends and family.