Posted by: Tom Duch | March 31, 2009

Don Bosco: (Inter)National Football Powerhouse

Going to high school in Franklin Lakes, NJ, I knew all about Don Bosco Prep Football. I’m pretty sure that most people from North Jersey knew about their football program. In 2008, Sports Illustrated ranked Don Bosco as the ninth best sports program in the nation. Over my high school years when we were winning state championships, so was Bosco. They won rings in 2002 and 2003 with their ’02 team ranking eighth in USA Today’s Top 25. Let’s not beat around the bush here, Don Bosco is a football powerhouse, in both New Jersey and in the entire nation.

But what about overseas? Is it possible that Bosco is known internationally? The chocolate syrup maybe, but the football team? After a recent trip to Rome, I found out that claim is not as far fetched as it seems.

This year two of my roommates and I spent spring break in Rome and Florence. Because we carried on all our luggage I brought only two sweatshirts. One was a fleece and the other was a Don Bosco Football hooded sweatshirt. During the winter months I have been wearing the sweatshirt about once or twice a week. Lately, everytime I wore it I would get a comment from at least one person. Kids from my school or old men at Reading Terminal Market would come up to me and ask if I went to Bosco. It was understandable getting these comments in Philadelphia (2 hour car ride from Bosco), but in Rome (a 6 1/2+ hour plane ride away)???

When we arrived in Rome we spotted Don Bosco Bookstore across the street from our hotel. Just a coincidence right? Nope, incorrect. For the next five days I got a comment from one person a day about the sweatshirt.

Three people from Rome and two from Florence recognized the name on the shirt. On our first day there while walking Palatine Hill (I called it Rick Pittino Hill) near the Colosseum we heard someone yell out “Go Ironmen!” Another day a man who was seemingly Italian pointed at the shirt the entire time I walked by saying, “Don Bosco… Don Bosco….Don Boscoooo” in an Italian accent. In Florence a woman told us she was from California, but she had been following Don Bosco for years. I just didn’t get it. Was I in Italy or was I back in North Jersey?

All these instances prove to me one thing, it’s a small world. It’s amazing how you could go so far but feel like your still in your own backyard. We met a kid from Texas over there that said it best, “the world is this freakin’ big Tom (holding his index finger and thumb about two inches apart)” in his extremely Southern accent. So I guess Don Bosco isn’t an Internationally known football powerhouse…. but what about that one Italian man? I guess he must read Sports Illustrated.

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