Battaglini the Badger
Cassie Battaglini figured the grass wasn’t going to be necessarily greener on the other side of the border.
The Welland native did some research into playing soccer in the States but realized home was where the heart was.
“I have always wanted to stay home, I never wanted to go away and Brock has a program (kinesiology) and that was an offer I couldn’t resist,” the Notre Dame graduate said. “They also have a new coach (Carli Tingstad) and a lot of awesome girls. So at the tryouts with the atmosphere I knew it was a really good spot to be. There is nowhere else I would rather go.
“It was a big decision to stay home. I know going to the States was in the air before COVID but you lose two years and for the NCAA their seniors are returning for another year so it just didn’t work.”
Battaglini has played in one of Brock’s three games so far this season.
“It’s baby steps,” she said. “I’m slowly getting a feel for the team. All the girls have been very welcoming and encouraging so that’s been nice to have that atmosphere. Everybody is looking out for the best for you.”
She is enjoying the fact the Badgers have a young, hungry squad.
“We have something like 18-20 first and second years so we’re all fighting to be there, healthy competition obviously,” she said. “We’re learning from each other. Whoever works well and whatever works at practice that’s who goes in.”
Battaglini grew up playing soccer locally and then spent a season in Burlington at the OPDL (Ontario Player Development League) level before returning home to train with Empire Niagara Soccer Academy.
“I started playing with Empire just when COVID started,” Battaglini said. “I had one tournament with them and then everything hit the fan and then that was it for two years. It was this new team and I didn’t really know where I was going to go.”
She admits it was tough at times to stay interested in training during the pandemic.
“During COVID it was hard to stay motivated but when the opportunity was there I was hands-down ready for it so I just kept training and working,” she said.
She gave props to Empire technical director Davide Massafra for his efforts during the pandemic.
“Throughout COVID Davide stayed very consistent with the training when we could and it just kept going,” she said. “Davide has been one of the best coaches I’ve had technically and motivational-wise. He was very close to all of us and always looked out for us whether it be on the field or not. He always found a way to make things work.”
Battaglini finished her time at Empire as co-captain for their U18 Girls Showcase Team.
“Honestly, it felt great,” she said. “I’ve been playing soccer since I was six years old and not playing for two years was a lot. It was a really big change. Coming back and being the captain I to step up and take this role and lead everybody back into things and it was a really good feeling to have my teammate and friends with me through it.”
Battaglini has a big fan in Massafra.
“Cassie is a very dedicated player and is very committed to the team,” he said. “I think she made the right choice to stay local and refuse a few NCAA offers, as she would be a great asset at Brock University.
“It was a pleasure to coach and guide her in the past years and to motivate her, especially during the pandemic.”
Battaglini was invited to train with the St. Catharines Roma Wolves League1 team last summer and could end up playing for the Wolves in 2023.
“I know coach Lucio (Lucio Ianiero, Roma Wolves L1 women’s head Coach) is very interested in her for next season, as she is very talented and able to play both fullback and centerback positions,” Massafra said. “I’m very excited and proud of Cassie for her development. I’m looking forward to having her back at L1 tryouts soon.”
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