Ripon College President Zach Messitte, front row, far left, smiles as he poses with the fans of the Cremona basketball team in Italy. He followed the team as part of his research for his book while on sabbatical.
Ripon College President Zach Messitte, front row, far left, smiles as he poses with the fans of the Cremona basketball team in Italy. He followed the team as part of his research for his book while on sabbatical.

   Several months ago, Ripon College President Zach Messitte found himself in an unbelievable situation.

   He was surrounded on a fan bus full of Italian Cremona basketball fans headed to a basketball game. They were singing their team’s fight song “Dai Cremona,” which translates to “Come on, Cremona.”

   Messitte, on the other hand, was singing a different song but to the same tune; a song that may be familiar to many Americans: John Denver’s classic “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

   “They would sing it [the fight song] and it was sung to the same tune as ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ by John Denver — I kid you not,” Messitte said. “And I would ask them, ‘How did this happen?’ Nobody knew.”

   He explained to them the tune is from a popular American song, which they were aware of, but they didn’t know the lyrics.

   However, Messitte knew the lyrics, so they asked him to sing the song for them.

   “So I stood up on the bus and sang ‘Take me home country roads’ and then they sang along singing ‘Dai Cremona’ at the same time,” he said. “And I was thinking to myself ‘Whoa, two months ago, I was sitting in my office in Ripon, thinking about entirely different things, and here I am now on a bus in the middle of central Italy singing “Take Me Home Country Roads” with a bunch of Italians on the way to a basketball game.’

   Read the full story, including the topic of his book and other unique experiences he had, in the Aug. 1, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.