WASHINGTON - Georgetown University football alum Nick Alfieri (MSB`15) recently completed his second professional season, playing overseas for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in the German Football League (GFL). Not only has Alfieri been busy leading Schwäbisch Hall to a GFL championship, but he has also been making a documentary of his experience in Germany and the culture of American football in Europe.
Alfieri suited up for the Hoyas from 2011-14 as an inside linebacker, serving as a team captain his senior year when he was also the 11th recipient of the Joe Eacobacci No. 35 Memorial Jersey. In 41 career games, Alfieri finished with the third-most tackles in program history (322), recording at least 90 tackles in each of his final three seasons, including 106 as a senior which is the seventh most in program history. He was named to the All-Patriot League First Team in 2014 after earning second team honors as a junior.
He graduated from the Hilltop in May 2015 with a degree in marketing and was enrolled in the prestigious USC Film School, having won Best Dramatic Film at the 2014 Georgetown Film Festival with his short film - Gray Areas. Before he left Washington, D.C., however, Alfieri worked with fellow Georgetown football alum and budding movie writer/director Brent Craft (C'08) as an associate producer on the comedy film, Lady-Like.
"It was an awesome experience to be on a movie set and get to be so involved at such a young age. We shot the movie all around the Georgetown neighborhood."
Following his work with Lady-Like, Alfieri moved to the West Coast to begin film school. After a semester in Los Angeles, however, he realized that it was not the right path for him.
"I was contacted to play football in Europe right out of Georgetown, but I decided to go to film school instead. While at USC, the Unicorns contacted me. I missed football and I didn't love film school, so it just felt like the right move for me to go."
After his first year with Schwäbisch Hall was cut short due to injury, Alfieri enjoyed a breakout second season, helping lead the Unicorns to an undefeated season and its second German Bowl Championship in program history. He appeared in 13 games as an inside linebacker and led the defense, ranking ninth in the GFL, with 98 total tackles. He also was second on Schwäbisch Hall with seven sacks and three interceptions.
"In recent years, the Unicorns have been especially successful and are, year in and year out, considered one of the top three teams in all of Europe. They're a really special organization because most of the successful teams in the GFL are either from big cities, like Frankfurt or Berlin, or have very high budgets. But the Unicorns are from a small town of 39,000 people, and are also have lower budgets than the other successful teams in Europe."
In Schwäbisch Hall's exciting German Bowl victory, Alfieri finished with game highs of 13 tackles and two sacks. He was on the field when his teammate blocked a potential game-winning field goal with under 10 seconds remaining to preserve the 14-13 victory and the perfect season.
"The atmosphere at the German Bowl was amazing. We had a ton of spectators, and they were able to use noise makers, drums, etc., in the crowd which really adds to the energy of the game. The moment when we won was the greatest moment in my sports career. It was such a long season, about seven months, leading up to that moment and we had put so much work into it. A lot of us were in tears."
During his time in Germany, Alfieri has not lost his passion for filmmaking. While in a Hoya uniform, he would produce the team's highlight films after each game. When he arrived in Schwäbisch Hall, he started a YouTube channel, NALF, as a creative outlet. He also came up with the idea to make a documentary on his experience.
"I got the idea to make this documentary when I was first contacted by the Unicorns. There are a lot of sports movies/documentaries, but I had never heard of any content on football in Europe, so I thought this would be a really interesting subject - especially because I would make the film while simultaneously going through the experience."
He recently finished production on his documentary, Unicorn Town, which covers the culture of American football in Germany and follows the Unicorns during the 2016 season. It also dives into the history and unique aspects of the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns and its relationship with the town.
"I've just started to submit the film to festivals this past month, and will continue throughout the fall and winter. The ultimate goal is to get into a top tier film festival, where it will be screened in front of potential distributors such as Netflix, HBO, etc. The best case scenario is that it gets into one of these festivals, and then picked up by a top notch distributor."
In his work both on the football field and with his documentary, Alfieri regularly refers back to a motto he learned while donning the Blue & Gray. SISU, a Finnish term that means courage in the face of adversity without complaint, is one of the three main principles that Head Coach Rob Sgarlata has established as a foundation for the football program.
"This motto is super important because, both in football and in filmmaking, I've had to face adversity. Whether it's breaking my collarbone out here, or having cameras and other equipment break when trying to shoot important events, there's always something to overcome, and my time playing football at Georgetown has prepared me to face those challenges."