Over spring break, senior Aristotle Nakos traveled to Italy to represent the USA and Mount Carmel in an international football game in Milan. This is a conversation I had with Aristotle about his experience in Italy.
Q: How did you receive the invitation to play with the US team in Milan?
A: Coach Barnes, one of the US coaches, emailed me after my junior year asking if I’d be interested in playing with the team last summer. But if I had accepted the opportunity to play last summer, I would not have been eligible to play my senior year here at Carmel. So I told him I was not interested in going. He said he’d stay in contact with me and watch the film of my senior year. After the season, he reached out to me again.
Q: Who traveled with you to Italy?
A: My mom and my dad came with me.
Q: Did you travel directly to Milan, or did you do some additional trips around Italy?
A: We went to Rome and then to Florence and to Como before we went to Milan. It was great to travel around before I had to report to practice. I really liked Como, and we even took a trip across Lake Como to Switzerland for a day. That was really cool.
Q: So after all the traveling you ended up in Milan to meet your teammates and practice. How many practices did you have prior to the game?
A: We had 4 practices.
Q: Did you practice against the Italians?
A: The first practice we scrimmaged against the Italian club team, the the other two practices were with the American team. On the 4th day we had a 7 on 7 against the Italian national team.
Q: So how talented were the Italians at American football?
A: Our coaches told us that they had really improved since the first year they played them. They’d been playing each other for about 5 years. One of the guys I played against is going to Michigan to play. He was really good. I guess Michigan went over to Italy and practiced there. So their trip paid off because they recruited the guy from Italy.
Q: Do they have high school football in Italy?
A: No, they but they do have club teams.
Q: Were there any other Illinois players represented on the team?
A: Yes, there were a few other guys from Springfield and the Quad City area. One of our coaches was from Loyola Academy.
Q: Well, that sound like a full week.
A: It was a great week. The game was fun and after the game my family gave each of the Italian players a Mount Carmel football shirt. So somewhere in Italy people are walking around with Caravan football shirts.
Q: So you had a great spring break and now you are facing the last couple weeks of high school. You are headed to Butler to attend college and play football. When do you have to report to Butler?
A: We report on August 5th, but I have a pretty tight workout schedule to get ready for the season.
Q: Thanks for sharing this experience with our alumni, families and friends. My last question to you is, what is your favorite Mount Carmel football moment?
A: That’s pretty easy. It was the playoff game against East St. Louis this season. It was at the end of the game when I intercepted a pass that allowed us to seal the victory and move on to the state semifinals. That was pretty cool.
Congratulations Aristotle and good luck to you as you move forward with your life as a Bulldog!