Aug. 18, 2008
Washington, D.C. - Former Georgetown football player Maurice Banks had never considered himself an outspoken guy. For Banks, considered a ferocious tackler on the field, the same ferocity was not often heard in his voice. Even for a player who displayed the talent to earn playing time as a true freshman and start every game after it was not until being named a senior tri-captain prior to his senior year where he let his voice be heard.
"At Georgetown, I was elected as a captain my senior year, so learning how to take charge was important," Banks said. "I'm not really a loud person, I don't talk too much, but stepping into that role, learning how to address issues has helped me grow as a player and a leader. I learned a lot from the coaches about defense in general not just my position."
Those leadership abilities have helped the Clinton, Md. native flourish in professional football overseas, where he helped lead his Bergamo Lions to a 56-54 win over the Balsano Giants in the Super Bowl Italiano in 2008, the Lions 12th consecutive Italian Championship.
"It was a close one," Banks said of the game," It was one of the highest scoring games I've ever been a part of. In the first half, we were up 41-20 and they got a few kick returns and made some plays, but we held on."
Banks joined the Lions midway through their championship run after spending time playing arena football, but he cites his fondness of the outdoor game for taking him overseas. "Obviously, it's not as big as football over here," Banks said. "But you play some games where you have a lot of fans and other games in some smaller cities where they just don't have the money. For the most part the playoff games and the championship game had pretty big crowds."
His time in Italy was not his first venture into American Football in Europe. In 2007, Banks spent the season playing for the Marburg Mercenaries of the German Football League. Similar to his experiences as a captain with the Hoyas, his experiences overseas have helped Banks find comfort in having a vocal role.
"[In Italy] usually it's about five or six Americans per team, in Germany maybe eight or 10, but the rest is made up of local players," Banks said, also comparing the caliber of competition to Football Championship Subdivision college football. "Coming from the States, football is a whole lot bigger and they don't get the coaching overseas that we get in learning the techniques. You have to help your teammates as best as you can because anything you can help them learn makes the team better."
The added responsibilities of playing in Europe have helped Banks see an extended future in football beyond just playing, but he notes those responsibilities
"Georgetown really helped me learn football, learn the game and be more fundamentally sound and I feel like going overseas is helping me do a lot of things," Banks said. "One day I might decide to coach, so helping players over there moves me in that direction, also teaching players is helping me sharpen up my game."
As far as teaching, Banks has been back to the Hilltop a few times this summer to work with the current crop of Georgetown football players. During the time he's spent with this year's Hoyas he's come away impressed.
"I've actually been up there a couple of times helping out with the defensive backs since they've been at camp," Banks said. "I was actually there for the first practice and they look pretty good, they've made a lot of improvements from the first practice and they have a lot of guys with some talent."
Beyond Georgetown, the focus for Banks becomes next season and where he will suit up and what type of suit it will be.
"I'm trying to weigh my options between either coaching or playing," Banks said. "I've heard of some new leagues over here but if nothing comes I wouldn't mind going back to Italy."
No matter where he ends up, Banks will always remember his career at Georgetown fondly, not just for his time on the field, but the life lessons that he learned in his four years.
"Georgetown had a good mixture of people and it has definitely helped me become more personable and meeting people of different culture," Banks said. "Going overseas and going to Georgetown has helped me meet different people that I would have never met otherwise."