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April 28, 2010

2009 Season - Vikings head to Austria this summer

International travel is becoming a staple for athletic teams at Augustana and this summer will be a busy one as three teams will head overseas to compete, learn and tour. First on the agenda will be the Vikings’ football team of veteran head coach Jim Barnes and the destination will Austria and Switzerland. Also tackling the international competition this summer will be men’s basketball (China) and women’s basketball (Greece).

School will barely be out when the Vikings load their shoulder pads and helmets and depart on Monday, May 24 for Zurich, Switzerland. A 10 day trip to Switzerland and Austria awaits Barnes’ crew with the date of competition set for Sunday, May 30. Augustana will play in the “Charity Bowl” in Vienna, Austria against the Austrian National Team. In addition, the team will scrimmage and co-practice with an American football club in Switzerland during the middle of the week.

“In essence, we are copying the same ‘football format’ we experienced during our last trip overseas. Our mid-week scrimmage practice with the team in Prague in 2007 was a nice workout, but more so a reward to see our players take active roles instructing young men who are very hungry and eager for knowledge and technique in our game,” said Barnes. “Of course, the Charity Bowl was the peak of the experience and this time the challenge is ratcheted up with the competition being the senior national team of Austria. This may be the first time an American college football team has competed against a national all-star team. I know we are excited about the opportunity.”

The 85 member party, which will include 57 student-athletes and five coaches/trainer and administrator, will leave Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Monday, May 24. After arriving in Zurich on May 25, the Augustana contingent will travel to Interlaken in the Swiss Alps region. Included in the trip will be hike in the Jungfrau region of Austria, a visit to Innsbruck, the site of the 1976 Winter Olympics, and a tour of Salzburg, the home of Mozart and the Sound of Music and touring in Vienna.

Of course, it will be capped with the football game with Austrian National Team, which is consistently one of the strongest on the European continent in supporting and growing American football. The all-star team that will face the Vikings will be comprised of the best of the Austrian-descent players from the eight senior division teams in the Austrian Football League.

Augustana’s football team first travelled abroad in the summer of 1999 when then-coach Tom Schmulbach took a team to Sweden and Finland. Barnes made his first international venture with the Vikings in 2004 with a trip to Italy and then in 2007 went to Austria to play the Vienna Vikings. Augustana is currently 3-0 in international competition, including a 41-14 victory over the Vienna Vikings in 2007, which was the defending Euro Bowl champions at the time.

The Austrian National Team that Augustana will tangle with on May 30 will be preparing for the annual summer tournament of the European Senior Division Championship of American Football.

In order to prepare for the trip, Augustana will conduct 10 full contact practices this spring. The first practice will be on Monday, May 3 at 5:15 p.m. There will be an intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday, May 15 as the practice sessions wind down.

PRACTICE SCHEDULE FOR EUROPEAN TRIP
Monday, May 3 – 5:15 p.m.
Thursday, May 6 – 4:00 p.m.
Friday, May 7 – 4:00 p.m.
Monday, May 10 – 5:15 p.m.
Tuesday, May 11 – 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 13 – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 15 – 9:00 a.m. (Scrimmage)
May, 18 – TBA
May 20 – TBA
May 21 - TBA