The question has plagued early-20-somethings since the dawn of time: after college, what? You are qualified, cultured, and finally credentialed – the world is at your fingertips – it’s a state of incredible potential, laden with uncertainty. Should you embrace your youth and follow your passion? Should you buckle down and get a job? Nick Alfieri did both. He became a Unicorn.
It started routinely enough. He played college football at Georgetown University, where he studied hard and stood out on the field. Nick was named team captain as a senior and is still the third all-time leading tackler in Hoya history. After graduating, he entered the prestigious film school at USC as a graduate student. A year in grad school made him antsy. Though he had a great time in southern California, exploring his artistic inclinations, he desperately missed playing football. He still had what many post-career athletes refer to as “the itch” – he wasn’t quite ready to be done.
Enter the Unicorn. The NFL wasn’t knocking down his door, so Alfieri took his talents overseas. All the way to Germany. Nick is now the starting middle linebacker for the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns. You may not heard of them, but the Germans have. The ‘Corns won the German League National Championship last year, and finished as the top ranked team in all of Europe.
Their success is unquestioned, but Nick insists that it’s all about the experience. Schwabisch Hall is a town of approximately 39,000, located in southern Germany and founded prior to 1280. It’s an ancient city, by American standards, and the architecture reflects its rich history. Subscribe to Nick’s YouTube channel to see more of the town, and catch glimpses into the life of an American football player in Europe.
He notes that it is the passion of the locals that has invigorated his love for the game. Though there are a few Americans who have taken similar leaps of faith following their collegiate careers, the bulk of the American football rosters in Europe are comprised of Europeans. Americans are distinguished from the rest, wearing green letter As on their jerseys and helmets, since a team is only allowed 3 on the field at any given time. Nick’s teammates do not go through the grind of a football season for money or fame, they do it because they love to play.
Oftentimes, our behaviors match our motivations. In this way the modern sports landscape, especially at the professional and top-tier college level, can be disheartening. It seems as though many are more concerned about their next contract than their teams. And there’s no judgement from our end, football is a rough game and a player has every right – a duty, even – to take care of himself and his family. It’s his job. His livelihood. But that’s exactly the point. When the game becomes a profession, it changes.
The Unicorns play for each other, and for the love of the game. It’s refreshing in its purity. It’s how sports were meant to be – how football was meant to be – and Nick Alfieri is living it, tucked into an ancient city replete with Gothic architecture lining the River Kocher, and schnitzel on every corner.
Whatever happens next, Nick says he has had experiences over the past few years which have opened up the world in a variety of ways. He has seen the world, made connections, and colored his worldview to a point where the idea of “outcome” is clearly second to the process of exploring, of living his best life.
Recently, Nick took over the story on our Instagram feed and gave the Good Athlete Project family some sound advice: “in order to be successful long term you have to fall in love with the process.” He went on to acknowledge that “every single game is precious. Every single game is an opportunity to improve.” It’s an approach we subscribe to fully. It works for us, and it works for the Unicorns, who are currently undefeated and heading back to the German National Championship game.
If you read this soon enough, clink this link to stream the championship game between the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns and the Frankfurt Universe. It’ll be epic.
And be sure to check out Nick on social media and on his YouTube channel. Though he’s still not sure what he wants to do with his “real life”, what happens up until that point is a story you won’t want to miss.