As they competed against each other during training camp, Cal kickers Giorgio Tavecchio and Vince D'Amato always knew there was one thing that would prevent the competition from inhibiting their burgeoning friendship. Forza Italia!
Whatever happened on the field, the kickers always had their roots. Tavecchio and D'Amato are both native-born Italians. "We told each other, whatever happens, happens. Forza Italia!" D'Amato said.
D'Amato, a true freshman, went up against Tavecchio and David Seawright, both sophomores, for placekicking duties during training camp. In the end, coach Jeff Tedford went with an All-Italian kicking game, picking D'Amato to handle field goals and Tavecchio to do kickoffs.
Truth be told, the Italian kickers' similar roots have produced a rivalry just as much as a bond. During a recent conversation at Gypsy's Trattoria Italiano in Berkeley, they went back and forth on the virtues of their hometowns — Tavecchio is from Milan and D'Amato hails from Sicily. They also debated the appeal of their favorite soccer teams and what constitutes the best Italian food. "He's from the South. They are more traditional there. More mafia," Tavecchio said. "They're rich in the North because of the mafia," D'Amato shot back. "They work with the mafia. That's why they are all so wealthy up there."