by Tony Moore
Swinging through the typical American living room or sports bar on any given Sunday, it’s easy to tell that professional football is a big deal in the United States. And Saturdays are just as big, as college football games fill screens across the country all day long.
But what most people might not know is that football has also captivated fans around the world, enough that they not only want to watch each week but also want to play. And this season, 14 players from six countries overseas are hitting the gridiron as Red Devils.
“Playing football in the U.S. has been a dream for a very long time, and I'm extremely grateful and happy to be here,” says Joe Cassidy ’26, a defensive back from Bristol, U.K., who is joined on the team by countrymen Dante Barnett ’26 and Andre Eversley ’25. “I'm excited to see what the season has to offer for us all!”
Both Barnett and Eversley came to Dickinson through the U.K.’s NFL Academy, a major initiative by the NFL that offers student-athletes a chance to combine their education with a life skills program and intensive training in American football. Along with the Brits are Australia’s Calder Shanks ’26 and Fabian Egger '24; Belgium’s Bram Leys ’26; Germany’s Leon Friebel ’26, Jason Hollinger ’26, Anton Jacobs ’26, Neville Krueger '23 and Vincent Sprenger '25; Nigeria’s Fej Esievo ’26; Poland’s Adam Dolata ’26; and Serbia’s Aleksandar Zivanovic ’25, who come from high schools and boarding schools both in the U.S. and abroad.
“Our international players bring a unique diversity to our program that has broadened our perspective as a team,” says Head Coach Brad Fordyce. “And it’s a group of players who bring an extreme intensity to preparation and a strong desire to develop.”
And while the desire to play football may have opened the door to Dickinson, these students-athletes see other benefits as well.
“Dickinson was the school that reached out to me and provided a lot more upfront recruitment,” says Cassidy, “and they made it very easy and efficient to transfer grades and anything else needed, as well as offering really good financial aid to internationals.”
Hamburg’s Sprenger, who has been playing football since the age of 12, touts the American experience from top to bottom as why he’s enjoying his time at Dickinson.
“The people I met on my visit made me feel comfortable and made my decision to come here easy,” says the international business & management major, noting that the intimate setting of campus has made it easier to make connections with other students and experience a sense of family. “I really enjoy traveling the country with my friends and discovering new places. America is very different from Europe, but I like seeing different traditions and learning about different cultures and backgrounds. I have really enjoyed my time in the United States so far and have made great friendships that will last a lifetime.”
While these football players represent their home countries while in the U.S., they also represent Dickinson’s commitment to building a global campus. Currently, students from 49 countries around the world call Dickinson home, and nearly 20 other international athletes are Red Devils across the sporting spectrum.
“I feel that our dedication to global diversity as a college makes Dickinson a perfect fit for the international population,” says Fordyce. “The support network within the campus community is dedicated to helping them transition and grow.”
And it’s that kind of support network and dedication that inspires confidence in international students’ decision to come to Dickinson. Students like Krueger, from Glückstadt, Germany, who says, “I really enjoy my time [at Dickinson] and don’t think I could’ve made a better decision other than to come here.”
Published October 18, 2022