Saturday, February 16, 2019

An Afro-Centric Museum in Varese and Flag Team Practices


Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Last night I got a ride to practice from Nikko "Maleducato" Moruzzi, our starting Right Offensive Tackle.

On the way to the field, Nikko asked if I had yet visited the Villa Toeplitz which is just a brisk walk from the Villa Skorpion II.

I told him that I had visited the villa's grounds before but that the villa itself was closed on the week day that I was there.

He said that it was probably open on weekends only this time of year and I said that I would try to go there this morning.

So I did.

There is the Villa Toeplitz mansion on the
immaculate grounds of the property

Oh boy, the Founder of Opus Dei,
San Josemaría Escriva, once visited
the Villa Toeplitz in 1968

 Large statuary is a MUST on
a villa of this size

As it turned out, the mansion of the Villa Toeplitz was still closed to visitors today but the Museo Castiglioni on the villa's grounds was indeed open.

This museum is all about the African continent which seems a rather strange topic to be found here in the far northern area of Varese.

 Interesting animal art

A large elephant

 Now THAT'S a nose ring!

I just liked it

 Strike up the Band!

No, thank you!
I'll take that nose ring instead

 Skorpion Power
in Africa AND Varese

A Masai arsenal straight out of the
old Ramar of the Jungle TV series

 This Spring will make the villa's
gardens SPECTACULAR!

In the late afternoon, the Skorpions were holding U17, U15 and U13 flag team practices starting at 3:00 p.m.

I joined the Nardi family for the ride to Skorpion Field early enough to lend Giorgio a hand with the rapidly improving field.

 Cool ivy on a tree behind
one of our end zones

 The Hardest Working Skorpion
is beyond a doubt . . .

. . . Giorgio Nardi!

I was happy to ease the burden of lining the fields for Giorgio just a little bit.

Giorgio has three passions from what I can tell, his family, cooking on the weekends and the Skorpions 24/7.

U13s warming up

Dynamic U13 RB Emma Petrillo
working the Agility Ladder

 The U15s playing catch with tennis balls
to improve their hand-eye coordination

U17s working on defensive alignments

U13 Superstar Alessandro

Always a crowd pleaser . . .

Raffa Nardi working a passing drill
with some of the newest Skorpions

These little ones are all about six years old and had a lot of fun working with the U13s today.

As for our next adventure . . .

I have been interested in going to Venice for the Carnival for a long time. According to an article on the internet, " . . . If you can only stay in Venice for one day during Carnival, it's probably best to make it this day!"

What day were they talking about you ask?

Why Sunday, February 17, 2019, i.e., tomorrow!

ROAD TRIP!

I may not be on-line again until Tuesday night, I hope Paul Sabolic and Mike D'Antuono will survive.

Our First School Visit and a Rare Friday Night Practice


Friday 15 February, 2019

It was a day chock full of American football experiences but first, let's look at an . . .

. . . Italian Fun Fact

According to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, over 50% of the world's great works of art are found in Italy.

The United States, under the stewardship of President Trump, opted to pull out of UNESCO as of January 1, 2019. I guess that Making America Great Again includes not supporting education, science and culture. 

I should have bought this book when
I had the chance back in California

In the morning, I walked up
the hill from the Villa Skorpion II
to take a look at an interesting chapel

A Pieta in the chapel's yard

The chapel was small and a bit
on the plain side, probably not
a UNESCO World Heritage site

Padre Pio is our son Michael's
favorite saint

And Laurie thinks that OUR house
needs a new roof

I felt that it was time for a cappuccino and a brioche although . . .

. . . this carrot cake was tempting

I stayed with the basics

The small brioche was filled with delicious white chocolate.

In the afternoon, I joined Skorpions Defensive Backs Coach Dario D'Adelfio for my first ever Introduction to American Football school visit of the year. 

Although I have done several of these school visits in Sweden and Spain, it would be my initial adventure into the Italian school system.

I took this St. George slaying the Dragon
near the school as a positive omen

We entered this school that caters
solely to immigrant students from
what I could tell

We started outdoors for the first half
of our program with the basics of
throwing and catching an American football

Dario throwing the rock
with pinpoint accuracy

We evolved into passing lines

Here is a young man from Tunisia throwing a tight spiral to young lady from Columbia.

Our group also included students from Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Iran, San Salvador, Senegal and Sri Lanka.

I was pleasantly surprised by the relatively high level of skills and the instant involvement by all of the students on hand.

For the last half off today's exercises, we moved into the school's gymnasium.

Three siblings from Columbia

All three had good ball handling and hand-eye coordination skills.

Introducing the basic concept
of Flag Football, i.e.,
how to put on the flags

Our first drill was a form of the old
elementary school game
Capture the Flag

I believe, if memory serves, that
she did indeed capture his flag

More Capture the Flag action

Even their teacher Luca got involved in the game.

Now we started to work on
two-on-two pass route combinations

These routes were far from perfect but they were having fun which was the main point tonight.

Is this curved rebar supposed to be
in these panic doors' release mechanism?

We conclude with a four-on-four game

Each team scored a TD, both on pick-six interceptions.

Italy's newest American football fans

Our lone lefty in the group hails
from Iran and was sporting a Cal State
Sacramento knock-off sweat shirt

Senegal, California, Tunisia

From Columbia, one of her passes
early in the afternoon nearly decapitated me

That led to an in-depth discussion to the group about the importance of a QB and a WR making eye contact before flinging a fastball pass.

We had a great two hour session with these quickly involved young people. We are scheduled to return to this school for the next three Friday afternoons to continue our lessons with these international students.

On the short walk to my C line bus stop for the return home, I spied a couple of unusual sights.

The Veratti Kindergarten

A dragon protecting a home

In the evening, we held our last practice of the week for our Prima Squadra at our alternate, synthetic turf venue.

I was concerned about the turnout for this workout that was re-scheduled on Tuesday as our Board opted to not practice as usual last night due to possible conflicts with Valentines Day date night activities.

These last second practice changes always worry me because people do actually have lives and commitments outside of American football that are hard to change at the last minute.

For example, this particular practice change meant that four of our coaches could not attend tonight's practice.

We still had six of our coaching staff in attendance and surprisingly about 25 players were at the field thirsting for knowledge.

One-on-Ones evolved into . . .

. . . Two-on-Twos . . .

. . . and then into Team work

Although we were missing several key players as I suspected, those in attendance practiced with great passion and made solid individual improvements tonight.

We have only four more practices and a scrimmage next weekend against the two-time defending Italian DI National Champion Milano Seamen before we play our first game of the 2019 Italian DII season.

Overall, . . .

It was a BEAUTIFUL day for
American football!

Friday, February 15, 2019

A Slow Day After a Long Road Trip


Thursday, 14 February, 2019

First things first . . .

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

I hope that you all enjoyed this special day with your significant other.

As for me, my nightly FaceTime phone call to Laurie would have to do, which it actually did.

As has become my custom as I get a little older, after an action packed road trip like yesterday's to Cremona, I now need a bit of a recovery day to ensue.

Thus, I hung around the Villa Skorpion II for much of the day reading and watching a DVD that I borrowed from the Varese Public Library titled Nebraska.

I thought that it was a documentary on the Cornhuskers' American football Glory Days under the leadership of coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborn.

I was mistaken.

It was an interesting, dark film starring Bruce Dern with not a Cornhusker highlight in the entire movie.

I needed to restock my pantry so . . .

. . . I walked down to the Tonino
Butcher Shop for some needed meat
and wine sundries

It looks like Tonino's will do a home delivery via this bike at times if needed.

I needed to return the Nebraska DVD and check out another one or two, so I headed to . . .

The Palazzo Estense
in Varese

It now houses the offices of several local government departments including the Tourist Information Office and the all-important Public Library.

 Lions are big in architectural
planning throughout Italy

Since it was Valentines Day, our Skorpions Board decided to reschedule tonight's Prima Squadra practice to Friday night as there was real concern about attendance today in the face of date night pressures from forces far beyond the power and lure of American football.

We still had a U16 tackle, U15 flag and U13 flag team practices to conduct simultaneously from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

A poster in the coaches office from
a long ago incarnation of the then
known as the Bosco Alfa Romeo Skorpions

I think this poster is from the 1991 Italian DI season.

With the deep pockets of the Alfa Romeo Company backing the Skorpions and an apparent pipeline to St. John Bosco H.S. players, it makes perfect sense that the Skorpions were competing at Italy's highest level in those days.

U13 and U15 flag teams warming-up

Working on improving their footwork
daily is of the utmost importance

U16 tackle team getting loose

The U16 tackle team doing
a much crisper job on their
footwork drills

I spent most of my evening first supervising the U16 team's squat workout and then working with our Center's snaps for QB under Center, QB in the Shotgun and Punt/Field Goal situations.

It was a BEAUTIFUL night for American football!