Football player kick a football.

Foreign Exchange Student tackles football

By: Seth Schwarz

On July 23rd 17-year-old Lorenzo Ciafre traveled from Rome, Italy, to Doniphan, Nebraska, crossing the ocean and making the change from Soccer to American Football. Ciafre grew up playing soccer and was part of Ternana Calcio, an Italian soccer club founded in 1993 before he packed his bags to embark on his exchange year. He joined the Dragons (his team mascot) three years ago and has laced up his cleats to play every Saturday since. He played wing which, was a faster position requiring him to be good at offense and defense.

As soccer isn’t an option for DT students, Ciafre is trying his hand, or rather his foot, at American football. Because the rest of the world is crazy for soccer, Ciafre hadn’t ever even seen an American football game prior to setting foot in Nebraska. For the first few days of football practice, Ciafre sat quiet and sat on the sideline for most of the practice just watching, but it didn’t take long for Ciafre and the coaches to put his soccer kick to the test on the pigskin. Just like that, Ciafre cemented his spot in the Cardinal roster and found fun with his new team.

Ciafre stated, “Football is actually really fun because it’s not just kicking around a ball, there are multiple parts to the game.” 

When Ciafre first got the chance to try out for the position of kicker, putting all the years of kicking a soccer ball to the test, he quickly realized that there was not a big difference between kicking a round ball and a football. After just a few kicks, everyone noticed how good he really was and knew he was going to be the kicker.

Head Coach Jordan Connor said, “he’s a great teammate; he brings a positive attitude to our football team and has made us better in the kicking game.”

Ciafre played his first game on August 26th at 7:00 p.m against Kearney Catholic kicking the ball two times for an average of 53 yards.

Ciafre commented, “Beginning the season was such a huge deal to me because I was the first person to touch the ball all season. It was an outstanding feeling from my warmups until my last kick of the night.”

In just a few weeks of playing football, Ciafre has also started to learn how to kick extra points. He attempted one in the third game of the season against Wilber-Clatonia. He sadly missed starting the season at 0/1 from extra points.

“I was really nervous because it is way different in a game compared to practice, but I'm going to keep practicing to be better,” explained Ciafre.

Ciafre is trying his best in every game and practice to improve his ability to kick and make extra points, and he is just happy to contribute to the team in any way he can.

Connor stated, “he’s definitely gotten better over the course of the season, I think in a few weeks of practice, he will definitely be one of the better kickers we’ve had in the last couple of years.”