Saint Leo University junior Vincent Pensabene admits he downs a whole bottle of water before he takes the stage for a performance. But once he's out there playing his character, downing the H2O is all worth it.

Why Saint Leo Was an Easy Choice for the New York Native

The 20-year-old undergraduate sport business major came to study at Saint Leo's University Campus in Florida from Long Island, N.Y., enrolling in the fall of 2015.

"I always wanted to go to school somewhere outside of New York," he says. "During my junior year of high school, we had someone from Saint Leo come to our school. I talked to the guy for probably over an hour, and I fell in love with everything he was saying about the school. He said it was like a family atmosphere, and I thought it would be fun to go to Florida. I never even visited the school before I applied and got accepted. I just took his word for it."

He recalls having two classes on academic writing that he thoroughly enjoyed, and it was Professor Gilbert who taught both of those. He's also been very satisfied with the classes in his major.

"All of my classes and professors in sport business have been incredible," he says.

A Dramatic Journey

Pensabene is proud to say he's the great-grandson of Lenny Montana, a professional wrestler-turned-actor who played Luca Brasi in the 1970s hit film The Godfather and had a number of other roles. While he never knew the man, he attributes some of his passion for performing on stage to Montana and his lineage.

"My family has always been connected to movies," he says. "I always thought it was pretty cool to pretend to be someone different. The thrill I get on stage is unlike many other things."

He was first introduced to drama in middle school and took the stage for several shows in high school as well. At Saint Leo, Pensabene had his first male lead role in 9 to 5 and was also in A Murder is Announced back in 2016. This March, he somewhat unexpectedly appeared in Return to the Forbidden Planet, which was held in Saint Leo's Black Box Theatre on University Campus.

"I didn't even audition for it, but I had to fill in for someone else. When I first heard the script, I couldn't really see myself doing it. But the cast members were so fun, and our director, Becky Lane, made it a great experience for everyone."

And as for his pre-performance water consumption?

"Drinking water helps me calm myself down. It's kind of a little ritual I've always had. At the end of the day, I have to realize that being on stage is really no different than talking to some friends. You're just in front of more people when you do it."

Covering Lions Athletics at The Lions' Pride

For most of his time as a college student, Pensabene has done work for The Lions' Pride, the university's student newspaper. He currently serves as its print sports editor.

"We really don't have a very big sports staff, so we try to cover everything as much as possible. Along with the campus sports, we try to cover any big sports stories related to Saint Leo in general."

Based on his pulse on athletics, he says the baseball team has performed the best recently, but he adds that many of the Lions teams have been successful of late.

"I did my first face-to-face interview with head softball coach Erin Kinberger when she first arrived at Saint Leo," he recalls. "She knew I was a little nervous, but she made me feel really comfortable, and I'll always remember that interview."

Post-Graduation Aspirations

While entertaining audiences is certainly a big passion of his, he ultimately hopes to work as a sportswriter and potentially as an analyst for a major company one day.

"If I can continue acting as a career as well, I would be open to it. I've dedicated a lot of time to both things. If an opportunity where I can do both is presented, it would be very difficult to turn down."

READ MORE: Check out Pensabene's articles on why the NBA should reduce the number of games and the Clemson-Alabama national championship game in Tampa.

Photo credit: The photographs included in this blog article were provided by Vincent Pensabene and are used with permission.

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