McGill Redbirds Soccer centre-back Juliano Cobuzzi, U4 Engineering, spends most of his spare time on the soccer pitch and in the kitchen, two places central to his upbringing.
Cobuzzi’s soccer career began under the watchful eye of his father, his first coach. Some of his earliest memories centre around his time playing soccer. Cobuzzi realized his love for the sport from a young age, when he noticed that game cancellations affected his mood.
“I distinctly remember games being cancelled because it would rain and getting super upset about it,” Cobuzzi said in an interview with The McGill Tribune.
Cobuzzi developed his love of the game into a skill, competing in high-level club soccer throughout his youth and playing with the Montreal Impact Development Academy, an elite soccer program. After training with Impact, Cobuzzi even considered playing professionally.
“I was a part of the Impact Academy from 13 or 14 to 19 years old,” Cobuzzi said. “I went to a couple of national team camps and was a part of the provincial team. My original goal was to play professionally in some capacity, but that never really worked out. I had a lot of injuries, and obviously, it is difficult.”
After high school, Cobuzzi knew he wanted to go to university while continuing his soccer career as well. As a chemical engineering major and a computer science minor, Cobuzzi currently serves as a machine learning research assistant. In March 2020, he was granted the Eugenie Ulmer-Lamothe (EUL) Award, a scholarship awarded to fund summer research projects for undergraduate chemical engineering students.
Outside of academics, Cobuzzi cited the camaraderie amongst his teammates as the best part of his experience at McGill. Most of his friends are either current or former members of the program, and they have developed lasting bonds while on the team together. Cobuzzi enjoys spending time with his teammates, whether it be on pre-season trips or away games in Quebec City.
“That is another reason why I really love the game,” Cobuzzi said. “It is not a solo game, it is with a team, and I really excel at that. That is the main part I enjoy.”
Team bonding is critical to team success; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult, forcing the team to carry out all bonding activities virtually. Although many members of the men’s soccer team are not currently in Montreal, Cobuzzi believes that his team has improved in communication since the start of the winter semester.
“We have Facebook chats and the coach sets up Zoom meetings sometimes,” Cobuzzi said. “Once a week, we get together for a run, and […] we even went snowshoeing.”
Cobuzzi remembers being raised in two foundational places: The field and the kitchen. Cobuzzi, who was born into a 100 per cent Italian family, said his heritage and culture are big parts of his life. His favourite dishes to cook include chicken stir fry and the Italian classic: Baked rigatoni.
“A big part of my upbringing is being in the kitchen with the family cooking Sunday lunch,” Cobuzzi said.
All four of Cobuzzi’s grandparents were born in Italy. With such a strong Italian heritage comes a rich culture passed down through the generations. For him, that culture is best expressed through cooking.
“I feel like most stories and traditions are passed down at the dinner table,” Cobuzzi said.
Cobuzzi is looking forward to being an independent adult once he graduates from McGill this spring.
“Hopefully, the things I learned at McGill can be used in the future and the rest of my life.”