The 2016 Marist War Eagle football team will have the unique and unprecedented opportunity to travel to Dublin, Ireland, to play an American football game in a completely different environment that most high school athletes could not comprehend.

Playing American football in front of an audience that has minimal knowledge and information about the game and in a location that most have only read about or seen in pictures makes this experience both unique and scary.

Marist Varsity Head Coach Alan Chadwick.

There are many issues that the coaches and players will be needing to address. How will the team adapt to the change in routine from our normal practice and preparation schedule? What part will the travel and location play in our players’ mental approach to the game?

We are playing a football game against a very good team (Belen Jesuit of Miami, Fla.). We will try to practice and prepare as normally as possible during the hectic days leading up to our game, while the players, coaches, families and fans traveling with us will have an opportunity to do some sightseeing and participate in cultural exchanges with the people of Ireland and with the several Marist schools in the area.

It would be a complete failure if this opportunity was wasted on only a football game. These additional activities should be an enlightening and an educational experience. That was a major consideration in accepting the offer to travel and play in Ireland, and is what justifies all the time and effort put forth by so many individuals to coordinate the logistics to make this trip possible.

An added bonus to the trip is the chance to see several Marist alums play in the Georgia Tech vs. Boston College game.

As different and unique as this experience will be, it is important for our players to understand that this is not the end of our season. This is just the start. We have the remainder of our schedule to complete and we return home to face our biggest private school rival, the St. Pius X Golden Lions, the following week. The Golden Lions are not only our neighborhood rival but a longtime opponent, starting in the early 1960s.

We cannot lose sight of the goals we set for ourselves, both individually and as a team upon our return.

Alan Chadwick is the head football coach at Marist School, where he started coaching in 1976. He is Marist’s longest-serving head football coach and among the winningest coaches in Georgia.