Friday, November 10, 2017

EuroBall Adventure XII . . . ITALIA HERE WE COME!


The songs of the Sirens of EuroBall were just too strong for us this time . . .

And they were singing in Italian!

It all started innocently enough back in mid-September when I received an inquiry via EuroPlayers.com, the clearing house for players, coaches and European teams trying to find each other.

Dario was making the inquiry

He has been a player for, and now coaches the Defensive Backs for a Division II team in the northwest part of Italy, the Varese Skorpions.

He was persuasive.

Yes, Skorpions with a "k" not a "c."

Now, where exactly is Varese?

It is up near Milan but it is
not shown on this map

This map hanging on a wall
at a South Pasadena pizzeria
did indeed have Varese!

There it is in the upper left corner near the Swiss border.

On this map it appears to be close to Lake Maggiore. Actually it is a little farther east and sits equidistant, about ten miles, from both Lake Maggiore and Lake Como.



GREAT area!

The City of Varese's Crest

The City of Varese has about 80,000 inhabitants, sits about 1,250 feet above sea level and shares about the same latitude with Portland, Oregon.

The city's Patron Saint is San Vittore whose feast day is May 8th.

Can you say PARTY?

So, what about the team then?

The 2018 season will be the
35th campaign of Skorpion football

OK, that makes them more than well established and meets one of my newer EuroBall rules, NEVER SIGN WITH A TEAM THAT IS LESS THAN FIVE YEARS OLD.

I learned this the hard way a few years ago when I signed with a second year team in Poland that folded about three weeks before I was scheduled to fly overseas to join them.

This rule ensures that a club has the experience, leadership and finances necessary to keep the club moving in a positive direction in my estimation.

Good looking Senior team last season

The Skorpions have about 150 players competing in four Italian flag football divisions and three fully padded, full contact teams.

The full contact teams are for Under 16, Under 19 and Senior players.

As mentioned earlier, the Skorpions
play in Italy's Division II

In 2017, there were 92 clubs playing American football in Italy.

Of these 92 clubs, 24 competed in Division II in the past campaign.

In 2017, Italy's best 11 clubs competed in Division I otherwise known as the Italian Football League.

The other 57 clubs played in Italy's Third Division.

So I was interested but would Laurie want to return to Italy for another season of American football?

When I asked her, her answer was a resounding . . .
SÌ!

I don't think that I have ever seen her as excited about a EuroBall assignment as she was for this one in Varese.

Enter . . .

. . . Enzo Petrillo
to close the deal

On our recent vacation to Italy to visit Mombaruzzo and Rome, Enzo and I had phone conversations and tried to meet face-to-face but the logistics just did not work out.

Undaunted, he kept after me.

I resisted but when he mentioned that Varese actually had several ristoranti that actually served Italian food, cannoli, gelato, coffee and local wines, what could I do?

Where do I sign up?

And just like that we were Varese Skorpions!

To quickly chronicle our soon to be 12 EuroBall experiences . . .

2008 Defensive Coordinator Catania Elephants, Italy

2009 Head Coach Catania Elephants, Italy

2010 Head Coach Hässleholm Hurricanes, Sweden

2012 Head Coach Thun Tigers, Switzerland

2012-13 Head Coach Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons, France

2015 Head Coach Murcia Cobras, Spain

2016 Fundamentals Coach, Wäsby Warriors, Sweden

2016 Fundamentals Coach, Osos Rivas, Spain

2017 Fundamentals Coach, Wäsby Warriors, Sweden

2017 Assistant Coach, Europe Warriors Senior Team that played in Mexico City in August vs. the UNAM Pumas

2017 Assistant Coach, Europe Warriors U19 Team that will play in Mexico City in December vs. the ONEFA U19 All-Stars

2018 Head Coach, Varese Skorpions, Italy

This thing called Retirement has indeed been fun!

So yesterday at the Atahotel in Varese, the Skorpions held our team's formal presentation of the 2018 to the club members and the media.

I was introduced to the Skorpions via a Skype conversation.  

The Skorpions Coaching Staff
and Board of Directors

Lots of players and their families
in attendance at the presentation

I'm loving the pink suspenders by the way!

So, let's dig into the 2017 Skorpions season just a bit.

One Skorpion executing a picture
perfect form tackle

But, on the other hand, another Skorpion got trucked by this Busto Arsizio Blue Storms' ball carrier.

We will work on tackling every day to be sure.

GREAT logo!

HERE COME THE SKORPIONS!

Skorpion QB Giacomo Micheli

We will have no import players on the Skorpions.

While our 2018 schedule has yet to be released, we can take a look back to our Skorpions' 2017 results.

As near as I can tell, our club played in a four team league where we played each team twice, home-and-home, for a total of six games.

Additionally, each team played two more regular season games against other nearby Division II clubs not in our league. A bit of a problem with these two games was that our four league clubs all played different teams in these two contests creating a bit of competitive imbalance in the results and final league standings as we will see.

In 2017, the Skorpions were 3-5 in the regular season and 3-6 overall. The Skorpions tied for second place in the league with our cross-town rivals, the Varese Gorillas.

We split the two regular season games with the Gorillas but advanced to the playoffs based on aggregate score of the two contests, Skorpions 33 - Gorillas 13.

The Busto Arsizio Blue Storms
7-1 regular season, 8-2 overall

The Blue Storm easily won our league and then a Wild Card playoff game against the Bologna Braves 20-19 before losing in the quarterfinals 21-14 to the Reggio Emilia Hogs.

Our two 2017 game results were:
March 19th at home
Blue Storm 19 - Skorpions 6
and
May 28th at Busto Arsizio
Blue Storm 36 - Skorpions 0

RB Giampiero Ruffato
vs. the Rivoli Blackbills

The Cagliari Crusaders
0-8 regular season, 0-8 overall

The Crusaders home base is on the island of Sardinia of which Cagliari is the capital city.

Our two 2017 game results were:
March 12th at home
Skorpions 21 - Crusaders 19
and
May 21st at Cagliari
Skorpions 27 - Crusaders 6


LB Simone Tammaro
leading the charge!

The Varese Gorillas
3-5 regular season, 3-5 overall

The Gorillas are also from Varese.

The always entertaining Mike Leach, Washington State's Head Coach, recently said that more American football teams should have Gorillas as a nickname. 

Our two 2017 game results were:
April 30th at the Gorillas home field
Gorillas 7 - Skorpions 6
and
May 15th at home
Skorpions 27 - Crusaders 6

RIDE 'EM COWBOY!

The Rivoli Blackbills
8-0 regular season, 11-0 overall
Italian Division II National Champions

This was the first of our two non-league games and led to my previous unbalanced schedule comment.

The result of our only game was
April 2nd at home
Blackbills 45 - Skorpions 6


LB Ivan Raso still trying to
bring down this Blackbills player

The Rivoli Chiefs
4-4 regular season, 4-4 overall

This was the second of our two non-league games.

The result of our only game was
April 9th at Ravenna
Chiefs 29 - Skorpions 0


Weather can be an issue this far north

The Roma Nord Barbari
7-1 regular season, 8-2 overall

This was a Division II Wild Card game against an outstanding club from the Eternal City.

Why were they playing in a Wild Card game at 7-1?

The result of our Wild Card game was
June 11th at Rome
Barbari 63 - Skorpions 6

So, we will be building from the base of a 3-6, 2017 season that was good for a second place tie in league and a spot in the playoffs.

We will work hard to improve our program and record in 2018.


Among others, #11 Tomas Pedotti
and #70 Luca Gabriele Bozzo
swarming to a Chiefs' ballcarrier

An unidentified #8 and
#9 Stefano Granelli
sack a Chiefs' QB!

RUN TO THE BALL!

Another good form tackle
against the Crusaders by
#22 Andrea Mora

#1 Thomas Alberici and
#99 Federico Bristoletti
Pressuring the Crusaders' QB

The Skorpions are going to be
a fun group to coach

It's GREAT to be a Skorpion!

And the Adventure continues . . .

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