Giovanni Tadiotto adjusts to life, golf in America

By Gavin Good, Contributing writer

Four thousand, two hundred forty two miles separate Champaign and Anderlecht, Belgium, where Illinois freshman golfer Giovanni Tadiotto spent his life before coming to the U.S. to play golf for the Illini.

Upon his arrival in America, Tadiotto was met with the challenge of learning a new language in a completely foreign environment, balancing college classes and playing golf for one of the nation’s perennial powerhouses.

“The big problem for me at first was the English,” Tadiotto said. “Now I just try to integrate myself with the culture.”

Tadiotto has adjusted well to his new lifestyle, according to sophomore teammate Edoardo Lipparelli, who made a similar move in coming over from Ronciglione, Italy, to play for Illinois.

Head coach Mike Small has begun to utilize the foreign market in recruiting talent to maintain his program’s standing as one of the premier golf teams in the country. Over his tenure, Illinois has had four European players, with two of them, Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry, going on to have professional careers. Small has high hopes for Tadiotto, who has yet to get much tournament action.

“He can be a really good player; he has just got to iron out some things fundamentally in his golf swing and get accustomed to what’s going on,” Small said. “I think when you put it all together, if you look at a kid coming from a non-English speaking country to go to college in the U.S., take a full load of classes, learning the language, while trying to play golf at the same time, he has had a very positive fall. He is just on a good team; there are lots of players ahead of him.”

Despite winning the Northern Intercollegiate earlier this season, Tadiotto faces a tough road to earn meaningful playing time this year. With more experienced players Nick Hardy and Dylan Meyer cemented in the lineup, as well as a talented young group of Illini who have been battling for lineup placements all fall season, Tadiotto must earn the right to play with the team.

Tadiotto does not see his team as competition but as a support system that helps him succeed and be comfortable with his new life.

“I am fortunate to have a team; they are like brothers now,” Tadiotto said. “They help me to feel good about myself and the culture.”

Lipparelli has helped Tadiotto with a variety of things ranging from classwork to everyday life and is trying to mentor Tadiotto similarly to how Detry helped him when he got to the U.S.

“I am trying to teach him how sometimes the culture works and how he doesn’t have to be opposite to it,” Lipparelli said. “He has to get into it and develop. He has to get to know people now, so it won’t be harder.”

The Italian has been impressed with his fellow European’s transition so far, especially with this being Tadiotto’s first time away from home for an extended period of time.

“I think Giovanni is doing it very well,” Lipparelli said. “When I came here, I had already lived for two years in London. Giovanni has never been away from his home; it is a huge change for him, and he is handling it very well.”

Tadiotto has relied heavily on his teammates to adjust to his new lifestyle and will continue to do so as the year progresses and the spring season begins. One aspect of American life Tadiotto has enjoyed so far is the food scene, particularly Chipotle, one of the team’s popular dining destinations.

“We have eaten a lot at Chipotle, and it is good,” Tadiotto said. “In Belgium, we don’t have that kind of fast food. You get so many choices, I don’t even know every restaurant here.”

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