“Playing football in another country is the experience of a lifetime that the team will never forget, and I’ll certainly never forget that game,” DePauw football head coach, Brett Dietz said, speaking of the experiences he and his team had in May when they took a team trip to Italy. The game will indeed be very memorable considering DePauw football had an astonishing win against Aquile Ferrara with a closing score of 70-0. 

Outside of playing a football game while in Italy, the Tigers took off their cleats and jerseys and stepped into a new role: tourists. The trip included several stops in beautiful Italian cities including Venice, Bologna, Florence, Ferrara, and Rome. In reference to his athletes, Coach Dietz said, “their eyes were opened to new cultures, and they got to know their teammates more. They got to see [the coaching staff] in a different light, in another way other than just being football coaches.” 

The Tigers are going into the 2023 season ranked first by the NCAC Coaches’ Poll. DePauw received six out of the nine total first-place votes, with Wabash right behind and Denison ranked third. The goal of the Italy tour was much larger than playing a game of football. A championship team is not only determined by stats or their ranking on a preseason coaches’ poll, but most importantly by total team camaraderie, which is exactly what Coach Dietz was looking to strengthen while in Italy. 

“I hope that it created a bigger bond for us to trust each other more, to have more self-motivation because they are now more tied to their teammates. And there’s more loyalty built up within DePauw football because of that trip,” he explained.

Though the once in a lifetime experiences and the team bonding were of utmost importance, the Tigers indeed reaped the benefits on the field, too. Per NCAA Division III football regulations, a team is very limited to how often and how intense they can practice in the spring. Teams are not allowed to have fully padded practices unless a team goes on a foreign tour. In that case, a team is allowed extra practices to prepare for the game abroad. These bonus practices, as well as the opportunity to play a game over the summer, were extremely valuable to DePauw football. 

As extra time on the field was valuable to the football team, studying abroad is immensely meaningful to the core of the university.

“Studying abroad is a hallmark part of the DePauw experience and we had the opportunity to combine a competitive athletics opportunity with international travel,” Stevie Baker-Watson, the Associate Vice President for Student Wellness and Theodore Katula Director of Athletics and Recreational Sports at DePauw University, shared. DePauw University offers students opportunities to study abroad for whole semesters, during the summer, and during the Winter and May terms of study. The football team trip to Italy allowed the student-athletes to get a study abroad experience alongside their close friends and teammates. In addition, Watson gave insight in regards to the competitive recruiting advantage the Italy trip gave DePauw athletics as a whole: “Our academic programs are strong and our football program is successful; we compete for talented students and providing this opportunity separates us from other institutions and programs.”

After winning the NCAC Conference Championship and qualifying for the Division III football playoffs in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, and being ranked first in the preseason coaches’ poll, the Tigers are looking to have another monumental season. The Tigers gained many things from the trip to Italy, and Coach Dietz hopes that his team “will reap the benefits this year.”