THREE GEORGIA HIGH SCHOOL
TEAMS WILL KICK OFF THE 2016
SEASON IN DUBLIN, IRELAND
BY ED HOOPER
IT’S APRIL 2015. BLESSED TRINIT Y FOOTBALL coach Tim McFarlin is on the phone receiving an invite to a high school football showcase. On the other end of the call is Patrick Steenberge, the president of Global
Football. This is no ordinary invite to a showcase. Steenberge is extending an invitation to the Titans to compete
in one of three high school games the following season in
McFarlin didn’t take the offer very seriously, later saying he
questioned the feasibility of making the trip with more than
100 people associated with the varsity football team. The
former Roswell head coach soon changed his mind, though,
thanks to several phone calls asking him to reconsider. So he
proposed the idea to his principal and athletic director. They
were all for it. Blessed Trinity was going to play in Ireland.
Fast-forward to the spring of 2016, and the trip is just a
few months away. The logistics are still being worked out. But
the Titans at least know whom they’re playing in Ireland, and
that they are not the only Atlanta-area school making the trip.
“The logistics on the travel, it is going to pose a challenge,”
The three Atlanta-area high schools are set to compete
McFarlin said. “But we are excited about the experience.”
Blessed Trinity, along with fellow Atlanta-area private
schools Marist and Westminster, will make the trip across
the Atlantic Ocean to compete in a high school showcase
as part of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic in Dublin,
pitting Atlantic Coastal Conference foes Georgia Tech and
Boston College against one another on Sept. 3, at the
famous Aviva Stadium.
against teams from either Florida or New Jersey on Sept. 2,
at a specially constructed stadium venue on the campus of
the historic Trinity College Dublin.
Blessed Trinity will face St. Peters Prep (Jersey City, N.J.),
while Marist will face Belen Jesuit (Miami, Fla.) and Westmin-
ster will play Community School Naples (Naples, Fla.).
“I think Georgia high school football is as good as any football
in the country, in regards to the level of play,” Westminster
coach Greg Romberg said. “But more importantly, I think the
level of coaching is top notch. I don’t think there is another
state, across the board that has coaching as deep as Georgia.”
While the focus all week will be on winning their Friday
matchup, the trip to Ireland is much more than a typical game
week. The teams will depart for Dublin on Tuesday, and will
hold practices at Trinity College on Wednesday and Thursday
before playing on Friday. After practices in the mornings,
players from the various teams will participate in educational
tours, giving the high school players an opportunity to learn
about the history and culture of the European nation. They will
also participate in an American-style pep rally and a parade
in Ireland’s capital before attending the college game on
Saturday and returning to Georgia on Sunday.
“It’s a cultural experience. It’s an experience that you
rarely get to do something like this within the setting of an
athletic team,” McFarlin said. “And so I very much appreciate
our school administration and their approach to this.”
Added Romberg: “I kind of look at the game, and I would
never really say this out loud, but I really look at the game
as anti-climatic for the whole experience we are going to
have there. Obviously, we are going to play a football game.
But the whole experience, the kids are going to have the
American Football Showcase
Dublin, Ireland – Friday, September 2, 2016
2016 PARTICIPATING HIGH SCHOOL TEAMS
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School – Miami, Florida
Blessed Trinity Catholic High School – Atlanta, Georgia
Community School of Naples – Naples, Florida
Marist School – Atlanta, Georgia
Saint Peter’s Prep – Jersey City, New Jersey
Westminster – Atlanta, Georgia
opportunity to go to another country, that’s just amazing.”
Marist’s football team will also visit the three Marist
schools located in Ireland.
“We’re going to reach out to them and work on an ex-
change,” Marist coach Alan Chadwick said.
Marist was one of the first teams contacted about playing
in the showcase. Chadwick said the initial call came in January 2015, and at that time he gave them a list of Atlanta-area
schools that might be interested in the showcase. Among
them was Blessed Trinity. McFarlin said he believes Blessed
Trinity and Marist are perfect fits, citing what he believed to
be the obvious Catholic school connection.
Westminster accepted the bid to the showcase in August
2015, after Romberg said he spoke with an assistant coach
at Blessed Trinity about the trip.
A major reason for the advanced calls was to give schools
ample time to raise the appropriate funds required to make
the trip. Each team was tasked with raising the money associated with traveling an entire varsity football team, team
personnel and coaches to another continent for five days.
At Blessed Trinity, for the roughly 115 people associated
with the team, the financial undertaking for the trip was left
to the individual families.
“The majority of people were able to pay their own way
and then outside of that, there was some money here at the
school that was able to help out,” McFarlin said. “But for
the most part, it is an undertaking for each individual who is
going. Of course we got a good price. We certainly couldn’t
go to Dublin and do all that we are going to get to do at the
price if we were just taking a normal vacation.”
Not every school took that approach. Marist held a
lift-a-thon with the football team. Players earned pledges,
which covered around 50 percent of the costs. Chadwick
said he then sent out letters to former football lettermen for
contributions. He also said Marist had several large donors
step up “in big ways.” Westminster used funds from last
season’s state championship run to help families offset the
cost, according to Romberg.
Back in April, McFarlin and Chadwick both admitted the
biggest logistical problem facing them for the trip was simply
getting the equipment to Ireland. Chadwick admitted he read
an article about NFL team’s logistical challenges of playing
games in Europe.
“I read the article and it talked about the challenges they
had in getting their stuff there, and it gave us some good
ideas. But they went really in depth, and talked and how they
were taking their own toilet paper,” Chadwick said. “We’re
not going to be doing any of that…. We’re just looking forward
to going and kind of feel the flavor of Ireland.”