Football tours Italy in the days leading up to the Conclave

Trip wrapped up with 24-0 exhibition win over Bolzano Giants.

  • Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Over the years, Raven football coach Larry Wilcox has traveled abroad with a group of players to compete in exhibitions games throughout Europe.

This year, Coach Wilcox and a contingency of players and supporters traveled to Italy over Benedictine's Spring Break for the latest trip.

While the trip culminated with an exhibition game against the Bolzano Giants, the game itself was simply a means to expose members of the Raven football team to the culture of Italy on a trip they might not otherwise been able to experience.

As with past Raven international football trips, our recent experiences in Italy were very memorable for our players," said Coach Wilcox. "Football is our excuse to be able to make a trip of this nature.

"To be able to expose our student athletes to the rich history, the art, the beauty and the people of Italy are what will be long remembered. This will also help these students to realize that these types of experiences and trips are possible for them in the future."

While a trip to Italy alone ending with an exhibition game would be a memorable experience for most, the fact that the Ravens were in Italy in the days leading up to the Conclave, made this year's trip even more memorable.

"The opportunity to see the sights of some of the most historical cities in Italy, and to be at Vatican City just one week prior to the selection of our Pope was unique," said Coach Wilcox. Our group was the last group to be allowed in the Sistine Chapel before it was closed for the Conclave."

For senior defensive back Anthony Brown (St. Louis), the opportunity to make the trip with his teammates was something he will remember the most.

"Italy was awesome, and was definitely a new and once in a lifetime experience," Brown said. "This was my first time leaving the country, so doing so with my teammates made it an even better experience. The timing of the trip was great as well, being in Rome as the Conclave for the election of the new Pope began."

For senior safety Matt Taylor (Overland Park), the memories made with his teammates will last a lifetime.

"My overall trip experience was incredible," Taylor said. "Any trip that you take with your buddies is going to be fun, but the fact that we were in a completely different country with a very different culture was amazing. The memories I have from Italy will stay with me forever. It was one of the best experiences of my life."

Before wrapping up the trip with the exhibition against the Bolzano Giants, the group toured Rome, Vatican City, Florence, Siena, Assisi along with Bolzano prior to our game.

They met up with fellow Benedictine students studying at the school's Florence campus for a dinner on one evening while other students from the Florence campus also made the trip to cheer on the Ravens in their 24-0 win over Bolzano.

"Phenomenal, best spring break ever," said junior offensive lineman Ben Kozak (Leavenworth). "I couldn't think of a better way to spend a week off then with the team, touring Italy and getting the win in Bolzano. It's gonna be one of those things we will talk about forever, good memories."

As Coach Wilcox said, the game itself was simply an excuse to make the trip to experience the culture and history of a country like Italy but for Taylor and Brown, their experiences playing against an international football team is also something that will stick with them.

"It was very fun to play against the Italian football team," said Taylor. "They had several players that could play very well, but they also had some players that you could tell that didn't quite get it yet. There was no lack of enthusiasm or competitiveness which made the game more fun. They never gave up and hopefully their season goes well for them."

"Playing an international football team was very different than playing a team back (at home)," said Brown. "It was a friendly game, and the Giants were all cool guys. The biggest difference was the ages of the guys we were playing. I would guess that their ages ranged from about 25 to 40 years old.

"The most memorable experience of playing an international football team was the surroundings and atmosphere. Playing a game with the mountains surrounding the stadium is a moment I'll never forget."