ITALIAN exchange student Tommaso Vignaroli has made a big impact in South Gippsland during his five month stay.
He’s become a vital member of the Leongatha Lightning and Korumburra Wildcats representative teams, as well as valued member of the local community.
He’s coached junior basketball, made loads of friends and had a great time in Leongatha.
President of the Leongatha Basketball Association Dan Monaghan could not speak highly enough of Tommaso.
“We were just so pleased to have a young fella like him involved in the association,” Dan said.
“The kids he coached absolutely loved him and he was great to have playing with our Under 19s.
“He also played with the Wildcats’ senior side in the CBL. Adam Smith (Korumburra president) would go to Inverloch (where he was living with Tim and Lisa Howard) and pick him up for training and I know he was just as popular there.”
Lightning team-mate Paddy Monaghan said his incredible speed and strength driving to the ring made him a difficult player to stop.
“He’s a massive NBA fanatic and you can tell by the way he plays.”
Tommaso is due to fly out today and said he’ll miss South Gippsland.
“I’ve loved it since my first day. It would be my dream to come back.”
He’ll return to study in Italy, and after working so well with the kids, a teaching career is an option.
“Coaching has been a great experience for me,” he said.
Asked why the kids responded so well to him, he said “maybe it’s because of the accent”.
He had hoped to be involved in a win for the Wildcats before his departure, but alas, it wasn’t