Sunday, November 19, 2017

Las Vegas and Other Fun Things . . .

Another few days living and enjoying our family in Paradise and Sin City both . . .

Mary relaxing as only she can

As usual, lots of babysitting is a big part of our weekly routine.


Mike and Jacob

The mighty Ninja Sharks had their season ending party at Camarillo's Boulevard Burgers.
Coach Mike ran the event
on the patio

Jacob and his first ever
AYSO participation trophy

I know, I know . . .

But he WAS happy

YOUR 2017 Ninja Sharks

Mike's last Words of Wisdom
to the Ninja Sharks

Meanwhile, back to babysitting . . .

Mary at nearby Lokker Park

She likes the swings

She likes the slides too

She makes gravity look easy


A Las Vegas weekend was also on our agenda . . .

Breakfast in Victorville

Emma Jean's is about the
half way point for our drive
to Nevada

 We got to Las Vegas in time
to pick up Kevin from school!

Rated "The Best BBQ in the West"
by me

And I am an excellent judge of BBQ!

Damn it!

Signs like this make me wish I owned a Colt AR-15 Assault Rifle to go hunting for elk or deer.

Kevin is an NHL
Vegas Golden Knights fan

Someday maybe he'll
skate for them

Gramma Lo and Kevin
and Blitz

Yep, he is indeed missing
his first tooth

Back to School on Monday

Kevin and his classmates

As is usual, the weekend in Las Vegas was one revolving around watching football games, eating and playing numerous games of Sorry.

Good Times Indeed! 

 Watching the Rams win while we
were in Las Vegas was GREAT!

After that win, Sports Illustrated was
officially on the Rams Bandwagon

But today our Rams came back to
earth in Minnesota
Final Score: Vikings 24 - Rams 7

Speaking of the Rams, during the week they hosted an "NFL Play 60" event at their training site in Thousand Oaks.

Mike opted to take Jacob seeking to improve his workout regimen.

Rampage and Jacob

I believe Rampage is the Rams starting Strong Safety.

Jacob at the front of his line
ready to lay it all on the line

Gator Tackle Drill

Three Cone Drill

I still remember as a young boy in the 1950s seeing the Rams Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch talk to a group of us at San Marino H.S. as part of a Union 76 sports clinic.

I hope that for Jacob it was as good a night for him as it was for me 60 something memorable years ago.

Mary showing off the dress
I bought for her in Mexico City
last August

The 2017 UW Christmas ornament
Thank you Paul Sabolic!

Last Friday I had lunch at BJ's Brewery in Burbank with Paul, Mike D'Antuono and, surprise, Mike's sister Diana who was visiting from Seattle.

Paul has been giving Mike and I these annual University of Washington Christmas ornaments each year for at least the past decade. Laurie and I both love these wonderful gifts and happily put them on display every year after Thanksgiving.


Sleep Over Friday with Jacob
is always a weekly highlight

The cookies he and Laurie baked were delicious!

And I do mean SLEEP over!


 Still EXCITED about Italy
and the Varese Skorpions!

Were the Skorpions unveiling our
2018 schedule?

Well, NO, not until FIDAF,
our governing body releases it

My guess is that we will not have a schedule until mid-December at the earliest.

Undaunted by the lack of our schedule, I headed to the Camarillo Outlets' LIDS store to have them create my very own . . .

 Skorpions Coaching Hat!

It looks smart to me, worthy
of a Milan fashion show

Starting to get my Italian
taste buds up to speed . . .

. . . what better way to start

Football News From Mexico

 The Pumas played for the
ONEFA League Championship
on Saturday

The now 9-1 UNAM Pumas are the team that played our Europe Warriors All-Star team in an exhibition game to start their 2017 season back in August.

The Pumas beat us 35-32 that day and I was impressed by their level of play.

The Pumas entered this title contest with an 8-1 record as did their opponents the Auténticos Tigres from the Universidad Autonomy de Nuevo Leon.

ONEFA, comprised of 22 universities, is the Public University League in Mexico and these two universities were meeting for the ninth straight year. The Auténticos Tigres had won six of the previous eight title matches including the last two.

Earlier this year the Pumas handed the Autéticos Tigres their lone loss of the season 22-19.

The Pumas lone loss of 2017 was a 27-21 overtime defeat at the hands of the two time defending National Champion UDLAP Aztecas in their season opener.

On Saturday the Pumas won the day and the ONEFA Championship by just another three point, 18-15.

Next up for the Pumas on December 2nd is the Mexican National Championship Game against this coming Saturday's winner of the CONADEIP Championship. This title game will feature the 9-1 UDLAP Aztecas and the 8-2 ITESM Toluca Borregos.

CONADEIP is made up of 12 universities that form Mexico's Private University League.

Back in September, the Aztecas beat the Borregos 28-0.

The fun is just beginning for our Europe Warriors coaching staff, as we will be in Mexico City on December 2nd!

The National Championship game will be played this year at the home of the CONADEIP Champion. Toluca is about 90 minutes west of Mexico City while Puebla is about 2 hours and 30 minutes east of the capital. Either way we are going.

Unless . . . 

We opt to go to the West Point at Heroico Colegio Militar (HCM) game in Mexico City that same day. West Point is sending their Sprint Team, i.e., their squad of Cadets that are all 200 lbs. and under.

We spent a wonderful day touring the HCM facilities last August and talking football with their coaching staff. HCM, by the way, is Mexico's West Point.

Either way, it's going to be a GREAT day for American football in Mexico!

The Aztec Bowl
is now officially a Double-Header!

Our Europe Warriors U19 All-Star club will be facing a U19 All-star team made up ONEFA players at 10:00 a.m. in Texaco, Mexico.

At 1:00 p.m. an All-Star team of Mexican university players will take on an All-Star squad made up of American NCAA DIII players.


Tickets for the Double-Header
go for a whopping
$70 Mexican pesos apiece!


That's about $3.70 in American dollars.


Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

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, 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 . . .

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!


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
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
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
May 15th at home
Skorpions 27 - Crusaders 6


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!


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 . . .