Last year 4 Italian football players, 2 coaches and a camera crew came to SDJA exchange football practice with an American Team for Italian cooking lessons! The result was an exciting 5 episode tv series, Foodball High, summing up the journey of friendship, football, new Italian recipes and victory.
They came from the city of Modena, where Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini are made, also known for the best food in all of Italy. Robert Ladson, the coach of the Modena Vipers and SDJA Varsity Coach Justin McKenzie are long time friends so when the idea was thrown out McKenzie picked it up! He knew it would be a great opportunity for the team and at the end of the season he said,
"Our Football team got the chance to practice with three national team players which allowed us to face strong competition every day at practice and it showed in the games. The boys were able to adapt and translate it to an undefeated season and league championship."
Jesse Katz, a freshman last year on the football team who also got to practice with the Italian players says, "It was a very interesting and new experience. They were very good players and it definitely upped our intesity and made us want to play better."
There was no question that the Italian players were strong, brought a new level of intesity and helped to propel the SDJA team forward but the cultural exchange and the friendships that were made were just as important. The football team and a lot of other students at SDJA helped the Italians get from class to class, practice their English and help them with homework. They also spent hours in the kitchen where the Italians taught them the secrets of breading chicken and cooking pasta to perfection.
"The food was amazing. After having played several seasons in Europe, it was great to have real authentic Italian food once again. Can't say enough about how great it was to have them do a couple of our team dinners," said Coach McKenzie.
Its not always easy welcoming new people and culture into a team but our SDJA Football team was a amazing example of friendship, acceptance and hospitality. They had their laughs and favorite moments like this one that Jesse Katz shares, "When we put our whole offensive line against the Italian Big Boy, it was really funny to see."
And lastly a proud moment from SDJA coach McKenzie saying,
"I just want to say that I am very proud of our boys for welcoming in the Italians and treating them like part of the team and being willing to be a part of the show. A football season is normally a pretty daunting task and to have to not only be a student and an athlete but also have it on display for the whole world to see is a major accomplishment that all the boys should be proud of as they performed beyond expectations."
A huge thank you to everyone who made this possible. What a great opportunity that ended in SDJA's Footbal team winning the first ever League Championship!
The show is now available on Amazon Prime and can found here- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KTHMS88