Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Here. We. Go.

Hallo! Ich hoffe, dasse alle gut geht!

My Deutsch is coming along... BUT I am really good at Google translate... if that is something someone can actually be good at. That being said, I just wanted to give another quick update, in English, because things are starting to get interesting around here.

Here is what to expect from my fun filled and exciting new post
- Quick update life. Including a mini trip to Berlin.
- My reaction to our first REAL game and it happened to be a Big6 game, which is a BIG deal
- Some upcoming cool things. Things I can express excitement for now. Then explain in retrospect with my next post.
- Finally, I included a few pictures. Due to public demand and dissatisfied readers.. needy people...

Easter Fires

The first thing I would like to mention is a great tradition that I have never seen before. In Germany, probably other places too but I am talking about Germany, the Saturday night before Easter they have community bonfires. But this is no typical bonfire, at least from my perspective.

people and fire. Night before Easter
Everyone in the community gets together in a field, drinks some beer, eats great food and socializes, around the largest fire I have ever seen! There were so many of these fires, the air was filled with smoke, even on the autobahn.

I want to thank our Dr. Meier for for sharing this night with Tommi, Durrell and I. I also would like to thank the Holtz Family for having us over for dinner that night too. That was my first dinner in a German home and it definitely did not disappoint! I hope we can come back!

Quick Berlin Trip

Got to have one selfie! Holocaust memorial
Well we started the weekend with a nice early Saturday morning practice following a late Friday night practice, That's always fun. But after that we were on a 3 hour trip to Kiel to to watch them play Dresden. It was a great game, definitely worth the drive. From Kiel, Tommi, Durrell and I drove another 3 hours to Berlin. There was another game worth watching on Sunday over there. We figured we would spend the night in Berlin, wake up early, see the sights, watch the game and head home.  The lack of cell phone service definitely made it interesting for using a GPS or finding a place to stay, this should have been an indicator of how our night would go...

Long story short. We arrived at 11pm. We walked and walked and walked some more and checked 1,364 hostels, roughly.. But all were full. Apparently, east-side Berlin was the place to be that weekend. So we gave up. Changed in the car and went out to meet some friends. Which included a lot more walking by the way.

Some of the Berlin wall. Guest stars, Tommi and Durrell
At a certain point in the night we realized that miraculously nothing had worked itself out. So we concluded the smartest thing was to bunk up in the car for a few hours. By  few, I mean a couple. And that might be stretching the truth some. But we rested! From there we did go out and enjoy some of the history Berlin had to offer. A nice little walk down a part of the wall, saw the holocaust memorial and went to the place Hitler committed suicide. These were all cool things to take in and understand for a second that history was a little more than just words in a textbook. Definitely more interesting than the blowout of a game. I look forward to going back and experiencing the rest.

Dresden, Big 6 

It is crazy to think. This was our first true test as a team, this was my first test as the team's quarterback and this is a playoff game. For those of you that do not know. The Big 6 tournament is basically used to determine who the best team in Europe is. Teams qualify based on their previous season. Because the Lions won the German Bowl in 2013 over The Dresden Monarchs, they naturally qualified to play in the tournament. It just so happens that Dresden ended up being our first Big 6 game in 2014 as well! And this was a must win if we wanted a chance to win it all.

We had the honor to play in The Dresden Dynamo SOCCER stadium which was a cool experience but led to some hearing difficulties on the field. I am not sure of the attendance of the game, but it was by far the loudest game I have ever played in. Pretty sure their announcer helped them quite a bit too... There were many other factors that played into it, but lets just say our offense was not firing on all cylinders to begin with. Thankfully our defense was kicking ass. Score at halftime was 3-0, Dresden had the lead. This was not okay, and we knew it. But we made the appropriate strategical changes and came out in the second half a different team. We were able to put the Monarchs away with a final score of 17-10. And we looked forward to playing Vienna for our next Big 6 game.

At this moment though, I was so proud to be a Lion. Our team is full of winners, that know how to win, whatever it takes. That is something special.. We overcame adversity, fought through tough conditions but never lost trust in each other or our coaches and we managed to win the battle.

I CAN'T WAIT to play in front of our home fans again, just sayin.

What's Upcoming!

-In less than 24 hours my uncle Rance will be here. I am so pumped to be able to share some of this experience with him! He is the main reason I got into football and he taught me everything I know about football! Except how to play QB... and other stuff. But still, The next 11 days will be a blast.

- Dusseldorf Panthers - Our first GFL game of the season is this Saturday and it is AT HOME!!

-Berlin round 2. Heading back to Berlin for two days with Rance. Hopefully see a little more of the city and take a whole lot more pictures!

-Vienna Vikings Big 6 - This is another big game. Not trying to get ahead of myself. But Vienna was recently named by the EFAF #1 team in Europe.. We will put that to the test, I promise you. Plus winning that game automatically puts us in the championship!

- Following that game, there is a large break in our season. I will take that time to travel some more. There are no set plans yet... but Amsterdam, Belgium, France, Cologne, Munich and Prague are definitely on the list.. I guess we will see!

To conclude I would like thank everyone again. Family, friends, coaches, teammates, Patrick Ihl for being Patrick Ihl, The New Yorker Lions organization and the Lord, for all the opportunities of this day. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Just getting started

One month ago I was celebrating with my friends and family an opportunity to go play football for the New Yorker Lions in Braunschweig, Germany or Brunswick to make it easy for those who struggle with life and stuff. First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who happen to come out that night. I truly appreciate the support I have received from friends, family, friends of family and family of friends. You're all just fantastic. It ended up going perfectly, I had tons of fun and I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my last night in the States.

That being said, the next day was much harder. Though I spent most of the day distracted by packing and checking for my passport 100 times, it was so surreal that the day had come. Since I had never really left the U.S. before, especially alone and for 7 months, there was an overwhelming conflict between excitement, nervousness and sadness. Obviously the opportunity was too good to pass up! But the idea of leaving everyone, especially my girlfriend for that long was a task I realized I wasn't prepared to do. But after a couple goodbyes and a few tears later, I was on the plane and it was too late for any last minute changes of heart.My first couple days in Braunschweig were pretty much a blur, mostly due to jetlag and my inability to sleep on the plane. But it wasn't long before I realized I made the right decision.  After getting to know the coaches, players and fellow imports I knew that I had the chance to be a part of something special here.

Within a few days and a couple crash courses of the new offense, I was on a bus to Croatia for camp. I honestly don’t think I could put into a paragraph my feelings about this trip. A blizzard in the Alps and a bus driver with a death wish made it exceptionally stressful. But thank the Lord; we did finally make it to Novigrad, Croatia. After 20 hours....(our GM made the drive in 7) But, coming from Minnesota, palm trees and the sea were more than a welcomed sight!

Our time in Croatia was quite interesting. I mean, no one has ever seen American football before and I was even asked if we were a NFL team! Haha But anyways, people stared at us and took pictures like we were a traveling circus but to be fair, sometimes we kind of were. Especially, when we found that they sell beer in 2 liter bottles, for around $3... Enough said.
More than anything else though, Croatia brought our team together. And it showed me how a championship team conducts business. They worked hard and had fun, and had fun working hard, together! After 4 days of practice, we were on the dreaded bus again. The trip home went a little smoother, no blizzard and we could actually see a lot of the sights in the mountains! Austria is beautiful by the way. But once we returned it was time to get into the routine of living in Germany.

Okay now I feel like I have already written too much, so the rest will be in fast forward!


The way I think it should be. Healthy food cheap, unhealthy food expensive. Most things in the market are fresh and don’t last long. You only buy for a couple days ahead of time. Fast food is expensive. You spend almost as much at McDonalds as you do going to a significantly nicer place.  

But there is no ranch, no buffalo sauce yet to be found, and a small selection of BBQ sauce. Mayo is used in place of ketchup a lot of the time and you have to pay for it! And everywhere you go serves sparkling water instead of tap or still water. That’s something I don’t think I could ever get used to!I hate plain sparkling water. Plus restaurants usually charge for water, just as much as soda in most cases.

Alcohol is pretty cheap. You can buy 20 bottles for around 10 euro. But it’s much better beer than anything you can get at a similar price in the States. Hard liquor is generally a little bit cheaper as well, with some kinds being ridiculously cheap. Though going out to the bar, you’ll pay similar prices to the States.

Oh, and I love currywurst, especially at Kokkinos. AND Brunswick burger has the best burgers this side of the Atlantic!


Is insane. Knowing what the street signs mean is a luxury I definitely took for granted. But the autobahn can be pretty fun! Parking is worse than Minnesota winters I swear. It truly seems like a free-for-all in some areas.

Oh and gas is STUPID expensive. 


Still learning as much as I can, but the amount of English is definitely less than expected. Communicating with the team isn't too much of an issue, but ordering food can be difficult at times! 

They recycle and save water like heroes. Whenever you buy a bottle, plastic or glass, you pay a deposit and get it back when you return them to a recycling center. I know we have things like that in the States, but it’s expected of you here.  And you often have to pay to use public restrooms or showers at the gym!


Like I said before, there is something special about this team. I could not be prouder to be a Lion. We are excited about the opportunity to play in the Big6 tournament and have a chance to be the best team in Europe! After that, we will look to win the German Bowl for the 2nd year in a row and 9th time in team history! 


After our first preseason game, it proved some good things but mostly that we have a lot of work to do in order to achieve our goals. I personally think it was a blessing in disguise to keep everyone humbled. 

I did get a huge cut on my arm that required 6 stitches. So that's cool. But overall, I think I played decently, just not where I need to be yet! Good thing we have 3 weeks till our next game, but it is a Big6 playoff game vs Dresden, so we need to be ready... We will be ready.  


They are like nothing I've ever seen. The amount of support I have received from the fans is amazing. I truly feel like I am a part of a family with the entire city. Yes, Braunschweig has a 1st league soccer team as well, which gets most of the attention. But our fans are loyal and loud! We played our first pre-season game against Stuttgart this past weekend. With only about 2,500 people in the stands, it was still the loudest game I have ever played in. I CAN NOT WAIT until we pack the house in our upcoming home games!


Okay, hopefully that is it for now. I’m new to this blogging thing and there was a lot to say. And probably a lot more I didn't even write. BUT I will do my best to keep my updates from here on out shorter and more interesting!

But in closing I just want to say, it has only been one month, but I love it here. Even more than I expected to. The next 6 should truly be the time of my life.

Also, I have to say thank you to my wonderful girlfriend Sammi for the continued support even though the distance gets difficult at times, or most of the time! Can't wait for you to get here in July! Thank you to my wonderful friends and family, I truly wouldn't be here if it wasn't for all of you, and I hope many of you can come visit as well! Thank you to The New Yorker and The Lions organizations for such a great experience thus far.

Finally, congrats to my best friend in the world Buddy and his FIANCE Briana!! Can't believe you actually did it! bout time. Love you both! I can't wait to come back and celebrate!

God Bless, Jerky James(apparently my new nickname....)