Maeve Rossi’s 16 hour trip home to Milan, including a six-hour layoff in Frankfurt, was more anxious than it ever was in the past. The departure and arrival locations were prominent coronavirus hot spots. But the rising Rutgers University-New Brunswick junior tapped into the same focus she uses on the golf course playing for Rutgers to safely maneuver home.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” said Rossi. “I practically didn’t sleep because I didn’t want my face to touch anything. Overall, social distancing was observed, people are wearing masks and the airlines are respecting guidelines.”
During the pandemic, even the most certain of interactions are uncertain. Prior to departure, Rossi talked of her excitement about seeing her parents, but was conflicted about hugging them because of transmission concerns.
“Being home is great, but for the next two weeks I’m quarantining in my room,” said Rossi from Milan. “For now, I’m still just eating with my parents through FaceTime. I’m sure two weeks from now is going to be awesome being home and having actual face to face conversations with them.”
Rossi’s parents live in Albairate, just outside Milan in northern Lombardy, the region of Italy hardest hit by the pandemic. Police enforced lockdowns began in the area on February 21, before a national quarantine was enacted on March 9. A phased relaxation of the measures began on May 4.
I started to hear about the pandemic from my parents in late January. They would give me updates and talk about what they did that day, which was always pretty much the same. Even though it wasn’t really interesting, I enjoyed listening, because talking with them was most important.
“They were under a stay-at-home order for about two and a half months,” said Rossi. “My dad is a member of two choirs and my mom is very active, so it was difficult. Getting groceries was the worst part. The municipal borders were closed and my parents could only go to the town supermarket, which is very small. It would take around five hours because they had to wait in line.”
Emilio and Deirdre Rossi are both accomplished economists and focused upon their work during quarantine. Their daughter shares their love of probabilities and projections and is poised to earn her second Women's Golf Coaches Association Division I All-America Scholar honor this spring as an economics major.
“They are both actively involved in pandemic research,” said Rossi. “They are compiling statistics to forecast the economic impact of this crisis upon the world economy. I was able to watch some of the interviews my dad has done online.”
Through daily FaceTime conversations about the happenings back home and her coursework, Rossi became aware of coronavirus and its impact at an early stage.
“I started to hear about the pandemic from my parents in late January,” said Rossi. “They would give me updates and talk about what they did that day, which was always pretty much the same. Even though it wasn’t really interesting, I enjoyed listening, because talking with them was most important.”
Rossi is grateful her family has not lost anyone due to the virus. A relative became seriously ill after a skiing trip to the Alps and was hospitalized on a ventilator, but recovered. A close friend of Maeve’s lost a grandparent, as the virus has been especially harmful to the elderly, just as in the United States.
A family founded in finance and focused on futures, the Rossis have remained healthy by obeying the regulations and appreciating their assets.
Exactly one month after her parents were issued a stay-home-order, Rossi was under the same directive more than 4,000 miles away in the Livingston Apartments. The governor’s order came eight days after the Big Ten Conference announced the suspension of all organized team activities, halting the season after three tournaments.
Head women’s golf coach Kari Williams informed the team in her Hale Center office. Coming off a year in which the Scarlet Knights set program-records in both scoring and grade point average, their season was unfortunately over.
“It was a very emotional, especially for the seniors,” said Rossi. “It took a while to realize that it was really happening. Looking back, April is typically a very busy month for tournaments and there just wasn’t any. As a result, there were no memories made with my teammates, and that’s hard.”
The ability to focus on the next shot, rather than the last, is key for any successful golfer. It is a characteristic that Rossi displayed during her three years as a member of Italy’s national golf team and during her first year at Rutgers, when she set the freshman scoring average record.
She is looking ahead to time with her family this summer and hopes to return to campus with her teammates in the fall. Whatever scenario presents itself, she is confident in her approach, and certain of her place.
“Everybody has been very supportive,” said Rossi. “My coach has been great about checking in on me and my teammates to make sure we have everything we need. We know we’ll be back together soon.”