By John Philip Wyllie
After completing a successful two-year career at St. Mary’s University in Connecticut former Bonita Vista High School quarterback, Tyler Arciaga found that the desire to continue playing still burned brightly within him. When the opportunity was presented this spring he jumped at the chance to play in Austria’s fledgling football league. Now back in Bonita following a season with the Danube Dragons, Arciaga reflected upon football, living abroad and his future.
“It was a great experience. I think the other four Americans and I all agreed that there wasn’t anything that we could have done (in that same time period) that would have made up for the experiences and memories that we now have. We got to live in the large metropolitan city of Vienna, so when we had free time there was always something going on. It was great to live in a different country and immerse ourselves in a different culture,” Arciaga said.
The quintet of American collegiate football stars were invited to Austria to not only perform on the field, but to act as teachers and mentors to their Austrian teammates. While those teammates had the same desire and athletic ability, they lacked the skills and football smarts that only come through years of gridiron experience. Arciaga and his teammates proved to be both good teachers and ambassadors. And their skills transformed what had been an abysmal team into a competitive one.
“Going into the season, we weren’t expected to win any games. We ended up going 4-4 and our coach, who was the only non-American coach in the league, won the Coach of the Year Award. Our four victories qualified us for advancement into a league that plays all over Europe. So next year, the team will play games (against stronger competition) in Norway, Germany and Switzerland.” Arciaga however, will not be part of it.
Possessing a B.A. and a Master’s degree funded completely through football scholarships, Arciaga is now ready to join the nine-to-five world of high finance. He is looking to pursue his career in either New York City or nearby southern Connecticut.
While he could have gone directly into the world of balance sheets and number crunching following his graduation Arciaga has no regrets about enjoying his final gridiron fling. He not only embraced his role as a player, but as that of a mentor as well. And at a time when America and Americans are in many places despised overseas, he enjoyed showing the people he encountered that Americans as individuals can have a lot to offer.
“With America not having a great reputation in Europe and around the world at present, it is up to us as individual Americans to show that not all Americans are ugly Americans. That might have been one of my most important roles. I thought the biggest thing was to create a positive image of Americans. It was great to play football one last time and I realize that it has taken me everywhere from Hawaii back when I was in high school to Europe this year. Football has been very good to me, but now I am ready to move on.”