Simone D’Errico in Michigan
Ecco l’intervista a un nostro studente Simone D’Errico, da cinque mesi in Michigan pubblicata sul sito americano The Daily News
Leggi l’intervista all’exchange student Simone D’Errico, da cinque mesi in Michigan, pubblicata sul sito americano The Daily News
BELDING — When Thaddeous Holbrook first saw Belding’s new exchange student trying out for football, he wasn’t impressed.
“He looked skinnier than the rest of us,” the Belding senior said of Simone D’Errico, of Turin, Italy, who is spending a year at Belding High School. “I thought maybe he might get hurt.”
But when the soft-spoken Italian put pads on and started practicing with the team, Holbrook’s thoughts about D’Errico’s ability completely changed.
“He blindsided me on a tackle and I was floored,” Holbrook laughed. “He was real fast, and is real good.”
D’Errico, whose host family is Tammy and Jerry Ball of Belding, who also have a son, Damion, on the football team, said he was pretty good in soccer, basketball and skiing, but he wasn’t sure how he’d fare in the American style of football.
“My first thought was to play soccer because I am pretty good at it,” D’Errico said. “So Damion Ball is the captain of the team, so I went to practice to see the team. I talked with some coaches and they told me, ‘Your year is new experiences so you have to do something new.’ So I was thinking, hmm, it’s probably a good idea. So I started playing football.”
D’Errico’s knowledge of American football was limited to what he watched on television, only knowing the basics about what was going on in last year’s Super Bowl. Now practicing with the Redskins, D’Errico was expected to learn a whole different side of the English language, that being all the terms, hand signals and scheme calls for plays.
Belding senior and Italian exchange student Simone D’Errico earned the kicker spot on the Belding football team. He also got a chance to run the ball, scoring on an 81-yard touchdown run during the Redskins’ game against Wyoming Lee.
“Fortunately, Simone speaks English pretty well, so it was just how quickly he acclimated himself to American football,” said Belding coach Joe Schwander. “It can be tough to teach because you have to teach them the idea of leverage, playing low, tackling, blocking and all the schemes we call, it’s a foreign concept to them.”
Holbrook was impressed how quickly D’Errico picked up the football verbiage.
“He got started a little late because he got here in August so it took him a little bit, but he started to pick it up and once he did, he was pretty much on it,” he said.
D’Errico even built enough confidence in himself to ask the coaches to try kicking, since he was a soccer athlete.
“So, in my first time, I kicked the ball pretty far, the first kick-off, and then I kicked the first, like, 10 field goals and it was always in,” D’Errico explained about his kicking try-out in practice. “So it was pretty natural and my coach was really impressed.”
D’Errico earned the kicking job and even got in on an offensive play as a running back, which he said took longer to learn the schemes of that position.
But in week five, the Italian first-year player got called in to take snaps on the offense against Wyoming Lee. Though the game was well within hand, D’Errico played as if it were a playoff game, determined to make an impact for his team.
When D’Errico took the hand-off, he turned on his speed, busted through the line and zipped down the field into the end zone, scoring on an 81-yard run.
“That was so amazing,” said Tammy Hall, who, with her husband, decided to host a foreign exchange student for the first time this year. “He was on a high still after the game. It was really exciting because just with him being able to play and get into a game, that was really awesome. We didn’t even know if he had a chance to play.”
Obviously, that was D’Errico’s favorite memory from this year’s experience playing football at Belding, but he said the team play and the close road victory against Northpointe Christian the following week was just as memorable, a 27-23 win.
When Belding qualified for the playoffs, D’Errico got to experience what the postseason was like for a football game. Though the Redskins went up against one of the state’s biggest football juggernauts in Ithaca, and lost, D’Errico enjoyed the chance to be a part of the game.
“It was pretty cool,” he said. “One thing I was impressed with was I saw one of the Ithaca coaches with a bunch of rings on his hands. I was like, oh my God.”
D’Errico said when he first got to America, he was a bit shy. But he quickly noticed how friendly everyone was to him and he realized being shy wasn’t going to work if he was going to make friends.
The Ball family became a host family for the first time this year, taking in Italian exchange student Simone D’Errico, at left. Pictured with D’Errico are, from left, Tammy Ball, Damion Ball, and Jerry Ball, during Belding’s football parents night.
Italy doesn’t have organized sports within its school systems, only club teams that one has to sign up for. So the thought of playing sports within the school, with classmates, was a fun concept for D’Errico.
“In my Italian school, you just study. You don’t have teams for all sports,” he said. “So, one of the things that I love was my teammates are my school mates. So we are, like, really close.”
Being a fan and supporter of other school teams, like Belding’s volleyball team, was an even more unique experience.
“One of the things that impressed me a lot is the student section here,” he said. “For football, too, but I went to all the volleyball games, so, I don’t know, the experience with my friends and cheering for the volleyball team was really good.”
Jerry Ball said his family couldn’t have had a better person to stay at their home.
“He’s been awesome,” Jerry said. “He’s easy going. He’s a lot like our son, Damion. Simone sleeps in just like Damion.”
“We’re pretty lucky to have Simone,” Tammy added. “He’s very polite and does what you ask of him.”
Schwander wished he has D’Errico for four years, not just this one.
“He’s a great asset,” he said. “He’s strong, he’s fast, he’s the total package. He’s our fastest player and one of the strongest kids. He has such a passion for the sport. Our guys just loved him.”
Ever since he first met D’Errico on the practice field, Holbrook has become close friends with him.
“He’s a great guy and was a great addition to our football team,” Holbrook said. “He doesn’t talk a lot, but once you become friends with him, he does.”
With football finished, D’Errico is now focusing on basketball, a sport he knows well. He is excited to start the season with the Redskins team.
Confidence in this sport, he said, is not an issue. D’Errico believes this year’s team has a chance to improve as the season progresses.
“I really like playing basketball, and I’m pretty good,” he beamed. “Coach told me I could play college basketball. So I’m pretty excited for it.”
In the spring, D’Errico plans to try out for track, hoping to run the short distance events as well as the high jump and long jump.
What he said may be more challenging is the Michigan winter.
“This morning, I was like, oh, it was really cold,” he laughed. “We have snow in the mountains, but nothing in the city.”
Having enjoyed his first Thanksgiving holiday, which he did with the Ball family, D’Errico is hoping to accomplish a few more things while he’s in America.
“I think, my first goal, is good grades. I have to stay focused for last year in Italy,” he said. “And I want to win some games with Belding basketball.”
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