by Chris Salvi
Free Safety, Torino Giaguari
The fourth week is in the books and the team is only two short weeks from the home opener against the Rhinos of Milan. This week brought some adventure and a chance to learn something new.
First off, I must thank my roommate Niles Mittasch for giving me his Italian book to learn some more words and phrases. I also have to thank him for being very patient with me while I learned how to use our manual car (stick shift).
Some of you may be thinking to yourselves “it’s not that hard.” – yes, yes it is very hard. I have never done it in my life and on top of that it I’m in a crowded European city.
Have you ever been around the roads of a city in Europe? If you haven’t then you cannot understand the difficulty! That said it has been fun and I am glad that now I am starting to get the hang of it.
Niles is a seasoned vet when it comes to using a manual car; he has only stalled the car out one time in a month. That is impressive, given we just got back from Sunday lunch at a friends house and I stalled the car three times.
Let me put you into the position of being an American in Tornio with your manual Fiat.
The cars are small, plenty of them zooming by, not sure which direction to go, the GPS is giving you confusing routes to take, and the light turns green. You let go of the clutch too quickly and the car stalls out. You have five Italians behind you in a hurry (not sure what the rush is), but now you must throw the car in neutral turn the car off, turn the car on, throw the stick into first gear, and not mess up. All while these five other cars are honking at you!!!!! Today I stalled-out twice at the same light. That said it was actually kind of a rush and a lot of fun.
Moving onto football, three solid practices from the defense this week – the intensity continues to pick up. The harsh reality of these practices was the offensive line struggled. Sorry to my teammates that read this, but I know you are aware.
I don’t want to dwell on the bad, so I’ll say overall the team again made improvements this week. Great work on special teams, and we’re ready because everything is installed and we have still two weeks of prep to go.
Although Americans are not allowed to play on any special teams, I have enjoyed being a scout team player to give good looks to my teammates. It brings back memories to my first year at Notre Dame.
Milan seems to be a quality team with two talented American import players. I am looking forward to the challenge of tackling their American running back! It was only a preseason game, but they had a few hundred people in the stands, plus a concession stand that was done professionally.Saturday night was very beneficial because we got to scout our Week 1 opponent. We took a short trip to Milan where I was able to finally see the IFL (Italian Football League) in action. Although the Rhinos of Milan were playing a team Switzerland, I got to see what we are up against.
It may not be Notre Dame stadium, however these teams take pride in offering a quality experience.
Sunday, we had a morning practice at a different facility. A small town outside of Tornio, the location allowed for us to get a great view of the mountains.
The field was in bad condition – understatement – but it was one of the best views I have ever gotten while practicing football. Trust me this is a big statement from me. Remember, I looked at the Golden Dome everyday from our practice field at Notre Dame, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because I have also practiced in Yankee Stadium, Solider Field and in sunny California when we played at USC and Stanford – I still recall the beautiful hills and landscapes there.
I also can’t forget to mention practicing at the Miami Dolphins’ facilities. There was something about how the sun hit the grass and palm trees around sunset in Miami that made it feel like we were practicing on the beach of a five-star resort.
There were countless other beautiful practice locations, but the view from today’s practice goes right behind seeing the
I’m here to play football, but like playing at any level the players do have a life outside of the game. Sometimes the in-and-outs of what happened and how it happened during a practice on the field can get a little plain to write about.
What you should remember is that I’m living this surreal life outside of the game – BECAUSE of the game. These off the field stories point to the reality of what football has been able to do to for me on-and-off the field.
I hope to inspire some young football players not only to be great at football, but also to be great in football that allows them to grown in self-confidence, have a sense of purpose, build relationships or even be as lucky as me where football opens up a door of opportunities you never thought possible.
I hope you enjoy not only the interesting football experience I am having here, but also the amazing life experience I’m having in Torino.