Thursday, May 30, 2019

Football Thursday

Thursday, 30 May, 2019

In the morning we made a quick trip into Varese via bus to do a little bartering.

While Laurie had a couple of clothes items on her shopping list . . .

. . . I was being a bit more pragmatic
in my approach to the morning

Nothing to see here, keep moving.

Speaking of moving . . .

I guess if you are scheduled to ride
a bicycle 138 miles/222 kilometers
today, you can eat anything you want

The dates and times of the Wild Card round
of the DII playoffs were released today

The winners will play one of the top four seeds in the quarter-finals the weekend of June 15-16. The top four seeds all have Wild Card round byes.

The #11 Sarzana Red Jackets (3-5) at #6 Padova Saints (7-1) winner will travel to play the #3 seeded Roma Pretoriani (7-1).

The #9 Ferrara Aquile (4-4) at #8 Brescia Bengals (4-4) victor plays at the home of the #1 seeded Milano Rhinos (8-0).

The survivor of the #12 Canavese Mastifs (3-5) at #5 Verona Mastini (7-1) dog fight will be on the road against the #4 seeded Reggio Emilia Hogs (7-1).

The winner of our #10 Palermo Sharks (3-5) at #7 Varese Skorpions (6-2) contest will play a Group A road rematch with the #2 seeded Cernusco Daemons (7-1).

In the evening we had a full slate of Skorpion practices.

The #2 seeded U17s were going through
their final paces before heading to Grosetto
for the National Championship Flag
Tournament this weekend

The Women's Flag team
doing footwork drills 

 U15s flag tackling
with Sammy tackling Il Dottore . . .

. . . and Sammy about to be
tackled by Melissa

Emma pensive about the next phase
of the U13's Flag practice

The U17s scrimmaged the Women
seen here in slo-mo

The Prima Squadra doing
2-on-2 pass drills

We had good, spirited practices tonight by all of the teams.

Practice hard, PLAY HARD!

Tomorrow Laurie and I will board the Pullman bus for the long ride to Grosetto in the heart of Tuscany to watch our U17s quest for a National Championship.

Go Skorpions GO!

Video Breakdown Day

Wednesday, 29 May, 2019

Today was mostly dedicated to breaking down videos of our playoff opponents, the #10 ranked, 3-5 Palermo Sharks.

Before starting on our task, we strolled down the hill for our usual morning nourishment at the Pasticceria Marabelli.

Today's Giro d'Italia culinary guide

Today the bicycle race went from Commezzadura to Anterselva, munching on cassolet and speck.

After the recent rains, our surrounding gardens were in full bloom.

Love those red leaves

 Pink baby roses at
the Villa Skorpion II

More Villa Skorpion II flora

Now as for our playoff game . . .

A date and time for our Wild Card
Playoff game have been set

The game will be played at Skorpion Field on Saturday, June 8th at 9:30 p.m.

My first reaction upon hearing that our game would not kickoff until 21:30 was "Why?"

The answer was both simple and straight forward. It also showed the pains that dedicated teams like the Sharks have to go through in order to play American football.

The first issue for the Sharks was scheduling a flight to Milan in June. You see, June is the start of the busy Summer season for Sicily's booming travel industry thus making last second plane flights to or from the island both expensive and difficult to book just two weeks in advance as is necessary during the playoffs.

As a result, the Sharks could not find a flight to Milan from Palermo that could accommodate the entire team. Instead they will come on two different flights, one landing at Milan's Malpensa Airport and the other at Milan's Lainate Airport.

The next issue for the Sharks is that the second of their two planes flies out of at 6:00 p.m. If it is on time it will touchdown in Milan at about 7:40 p.m. just an hour and fifty minutes before kickoff.

The final issue for the Sharks is ground transportation. The two airports are about 45 minutes apart by bus on the base of a triangle, if you will. At the apex of this travel triangle lies Skorpion Field which is 25 miles from Malpensa Airport on one side of the triangle and 40 miles from Lainate Airport on the other. Will the Sharks incur the costs of two busses? Will one bus be used to pick up both? Will the planes and bus or busses arrive on time?

When we played the Sharks back in March at Skorpion Field, we had to delay the start of the game about 40 minutes because their scheduled bus was late getting to the airport to pick them up.

This saga just shows the dedication and financial wherewithal  needed to play American football as the lone DII team south of Rome.

If nothing else, the DII playoffs can be both wacky and interesting!

Tickets for our playoff game can be purchased on StubHub I believe but be prepared for a possible long night before buying.

WR Mozza on a screen pass in our
first Sharks game back in March,
a wild 28-21 victory for the Skorpions

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

An Artsy Tuesday and a Good Practice

Tuesday, 28 May, 2019

The weather today was a bit dicey so there was only one thing to do . . .

Go to a museum.

Laurie had told me that Giorgio Nardi informed her over the weekend of a special exhibit that just opened at Varese's Musei Civici di Villa Mirabello.

So forewarned, we were off!

Interesting sideways mural
on a side street in Varese

 We had to walk through the beautiful
public park behind Varese's City Hall
to get the museum

As for the exhibit, I believed that it would feature the artwork of Gennaro Gattuso.

Gennaro Gattuso was a GREAT
player for AC Milan back in the day

Until today he had been the so-so coach
of AC Milan for the past two seasons

He resigned his position today with AC Milan after failing to get the Red and Black into next year's Champions League competition after finishing in fifth place in Serie A play just one team point behind arch-rival InterMilan.

I didn't know that he was also a renowned artist for one simple reason . . .

 . . . he's not!

It wasn't a special exhibit of Gattuso's artwork but of an Italian artist named Renato Guttuso.

Cool "minor" structure at the
entryway to a large estate across
the Strada from the Musei Civici

Guttuso was a famed Italian painter
who's main works were created in the
period from the 1930s to the 1970s

He liked calcio a bit

 But he liked naked women
more it seemed

Here we see his interpretation of an earless Vincent van Gogh in a house of prostitution in Arles, France.


Tools of his art

The highlight piece of this show
"Spes contra Spem"
Latin for "Hope against Hope"

I enjoyed his use of vibrant colors and his eclectic paintings.

Besides the Guttuso special exhibit, the Musei Civici has two permanent collections that were also included in the price of admission.

The Risorgimento Wing

The Risorgimento was the Italian unification movement of the mid-1800s.

Vittorio Emanuele II
The First King of a united Italy

Giuseppe Garibaldi
The Military Hero of the Risorgimento


 Weapons from these
revolutionary times

 A HUGE painting of a key
Risorgimento landing

I wonder if this was the likeness of
someone the artist knew?

I like heraldry

Rise to the occasion Lombardia!

The Risorgimento Wing was small but quite interesting.

On to the Musei Civici's . . .

Archeology Wing

 Translation from Latin:
"In case of emergency,
the Fire Extinguisher is on the left"

Ancient Lombardia stonework

Happy Face

Laurie likes her grapes

 How old is this wooden canoe?

 Arrow heads and spear tips
from pre-medieval times

Ancient armor

People loved these ornate pots
back in the day

 More armor

 Laurie checking out some jewelry
at the front of this display case . . .

 . . . and now an entire display
case full of . . .

. . . all of this ancient craftsmanship

As for me, I just liked the
looks of this man

 Beautiful serving bowl

Nice weapons

 A pygmy statuette

The Archeology Wing was quite extensive and interesting.

A wooden copy of Varese's beloved
Basilica di San Vittorio Bell Tower

Laurie thought that this armoire would
go a long way to reorganizing her beloved
Cherry Room back in Camarillo

Unfortunately, the man at the Musei Civici's information desk said that it was not for sale.

Neither was the Bell Tower model.

Double damn!

A thought provoking fountain just
outside the gates to the Villa Mirabello
that houses the Musei Civici

Il Giro d'Italia culinary update

Today Italy's premier bicycle race would head from Lovere to Ponte di Legno or, as I see it, from salami di Montisola to Casoncelli.

It was Tuesday so, in the evening, it was time for Skorpion football practices.

The U17s and Women's Flag teams
held a lively scrimmage tonight

We will travel to Grosetto in Tuscany this weekend with our undefeated, #2 ranked U17 squad to compete in the National Championship tournament that brings together the eight best teams in the country.

Our U15 and U13 teams did not qualify for their respective National Tournaments which will also be held in Grosetto this weekend.

On to the Playoff bound Prima Squadra workout.
 QB Jack letting one rip during 
a 7-on-7 period

WR Martino catching Jack's
laser shot

After an extremely physical game last Saturday against the Canavese Mastifs and enjoying a bye week before facing the #10 ranked Palermo Sharks on June 8th, we decided to give our Offensive and Defensive linemen a night off.

Instead of our normal full speed ahead workout, we concentrated solely on the passing game tonight with a lot of 1-on-1, 2-on-2 and 7-on-7 periods.

Also, as has become my custom over 61 years of trial and error learning as a player and coach, we continue to nurture the two facts of end of the season/playoff life as I know them.

The first fact, in my opinion, is that teams need to be as healthy as possible going down the stretch. At this point of the 2019 Italian campaign everybody is dinged up to some degree. It makes no sense to me to be doing things like Oklahoma drills or full bore tackling to a take down at this point of the season.

The second fact of the post-season, in my opinion, is that you need to have players that still want to play another week of American playoff football.

With these two thoughts clearly in mind we have been slowly but steadily cutting back on both the length of our practices and our conditioning the Monday after every game.

Before the opening game of the season against the Busto Arsizio Blue Storms all of our practices were two hours in length.

After the Blue Storms game we cut two and a half minutes off our practices and have continued to cut an additional 150 seconds from each of our practice plans after each subsequent contest. It might not sound like much, but it adds up at the end of the season.

With a 6-2 regular season behind us, we have now played eight games times two and a half minutes each game means that our practices before playing the Sharks will only last a feverish, frenetic but well organized hour and forty minutes.

We have found that the players are mentally fresher and physically less stressed following this system.

You may not agree with it, but it works for us.

It's GREAT to be a Skorpion!