By PAUL GOTHAM
It starts with a ring tone. Gianni Bussani answers a call from Jude Rouhana. A former player reaching out to his coach with a request. A request, that if anyone has visited a local retail store of late, appears to be on many a shopping list.
The Fairport Boys’ Soccer “Stay-At-Home Challenge” ensues:
From Bussani to Rouhana who passes off to teammate Aidan Fish then Rorie Simpson, Ryan Collins, Timmy Hirschler, Nick Polizzi, goalkeeper Michael Nesser (sporting the McLovin Driver’s ID poster in the background), Kingsley Malcolm, to assistant coach Mark Fish and back to Rouhana who, well…, puts the roll to its intended use.
“It’s certainly not my idea,” Bussani said by phone.
After seeing a YouTube video with Argentinian star Lionel Messi juggling toilet tissue, Bussani filed away the idea for a day or two.
Then Rouhana sent a text message earlier this week to check and see how his coach is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I said, ‘Jude did you see this stay-at-home challenge? He said ‘yeah, it looks funny.’”
One thing led to another before Rouhana took the idea and ran with it.
“He’s the one that organized all the guys,” Bussani said of the junior.
First there was the question of which way to kick the roll of tissue. Then how does it get tossed to the next player.
“All credit to Jude. He coordinated all that. They all emailed me the video, and I put it together with a piece of software I have.”
Bussani also credited Empire United Development Academy with the first local “Stay-At-Home” video.
“I copied that. I got the idea from the Development Academy. I asked them if it was cool if I did one with my Fairport kids.”
Fairport finished with 16 wins, four losses and two ties last season. The Red Raiders advanced to the state finals for the fourth time in the decade. Bussani retired after his 25th season as head coach with the Fairport program.
“It’s certainly special for me,” Bussani said of putting together the video. “I’ve always been all about connecting with kids whether they’re in my classroom or I was coaching them. I still have connections with my former players from 20-some years ago.
“Just the fact that Jude texted me made me feel really good. The fact that the other kids wanted to do this, and they knew it was with me made it special. These guys are always going to be my guys.”
Bussani currently volunteers and attends practices with the Empire United Development Academy.
“I’ve always been connected with Empire,” Bussani said. “As of recently, I just started being with them more than anything else.”