Valid student visa brings QU student-athlete back to reality

By Jay Hammel

While normally primed and all set to spend his fall between two white posts that stretch 8 yards apart and stand 8 foot tall, Hawk’s men’s soccer senior goalkeeper Michele Barletta was trapped behind a polypropylene face mask all summer where he was forced to follow a set of new goalie limitations.

Barletta, who hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, lived out his second quarantine lockdown this summer due to the low number of COVID-19 vaccinations distributed to the country.

“At least this time the economy wasn’t fully locked down so people were still going to work and doing their jobs,” Barletta stated. “But you weren’t allowed to travel, bars were closed, night clubs were closed, and even professional sports were shut down for a while.”

Even though the shrinkage of his countries’ boundaries restricted him from doing a lot, Barletta’s primary worry was still being able to practice his game before his first game of his senior season.

“It was difficult to stay in shape,” Barletta said. “Gyms were closed. It was difficult to keep practicing. There was a while where I was training with a few guys at a local park down the road because all of the soccer fields were closed.”

Since freshman year move-in day of August 2018, Barletta has formed many brotherly friendships in the QU classrooms and Jack Mackenzie turf.

“It was definitely tough to go on my phone, go on social media and see all my friends here in Quincy and the surrounding areas kind of having a normal summer while I was stuck at home,” Barletta stated.

The natural sad symptoms of summer coming to an end had no effect on Barletta as he experienced a sense of happiness when stepping foot back on campus this fall for one last time.

“It was like walking into a new world honestly,” Barletta said. “Going from wearing masks everywhere at home and not being able to do certain things, not being able to go wherever you want whenever you want, to coming back here and having a lot more freedom.”

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