Apart from the New England Patriots, there’s only one thing I can’t stand more on this earth and that’s the time between the end of April and the beginning of August. And no it’s not because my pre-season is about to begin. It’s because of the lack of football after the NFL draft. The Combine and Draft were two things to keep my appetite supressed but once they passed, there’s nothing to do but watch re-runs of Hard Knocks, Undrafted and replays of the disappointing Denver Broncos 2016 season. However, this year is different. The hard hitting German Football League kicked off last week and, even though finding a live stream is about as easy as Julio Jones making a sideline tip toe catch in the Superbowl, there are plenty of places to keep track with the league; whether that be Facebook, Twitter or any American Football International website. Now the reason why I’ll be watching closely is because of the Australian contingent playing for the Dresden Monarchs.
The Monarchs already boast the likes of DB Isaac Summerfield and DL Alan Steinorht, however this season there will be two new (and one very familiar) faces suiting up in the navy and gold. WR/P Jacob Templar from the Bayside Ravens in GQLD and GNSW’s very own LB Marcos Delana from the UNSW Raiders will put on the Dresden jerseys for the first time in just under 3 days. I was able to sit down and Marcos before he left and have a chat with him about his upcoming move to Germany.
Delana has been a wrecking ball in the GNSW for the past 5 seasons. At 23 years old, he has a long list of accomplishments that some players would only dream of. Beginning his tenure at UTS under Head Coach Rocco Bosco and Matt Long, Delana started off playing for the UTS Colts side (known back then as the Titans), after playing lots of Madden and watching the game on TV. This was where he fell in love with the game and with some luck, he was able to fall into the lap of the UTS team. “My friend and I were in a park in Concord one day and we saw all these guys in pads and helmets running around. I spoke to one of the boys and got their details and the next week I was training with them.” If only that team was the Predators instead HAHA! Delana went on to win the club MVP in both his years as a junior as well as Defensive MVP in his second season. He was also chosen as part of the NSW Wolverines 2013 AGL Squad and was named captain. This all in the space of 2 years! Marcos credits his coaches for all his success, “I was always taught by my coaches to take all the opportunities that come by because even the smallest window can change your life. And if you don’t make that leap of faith, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”
In 2014, Marcos moved up from the Titans to the UTS Division 1 team, the Gators. He would go ahead and line up beside the likes of veteran Australian representative LB Tim Clulow and the experience learnt from Clulow would go on and help mould the player that Delana is today. Marcos was able to tick another representative position off his list as he was called up to play for the NSW Wolfpack in their 2014 AGL campaign. 2015 was a huge year for Delana as he received the call up to represent the Australian Outback team at the IFAF World Championships in Canton, Ohio. Marcos remarked that this was his biggest accomplishment to date; “Getting the nod to start at middle Linebacker was such an incredible feeling. Going to the selection camp on the Gold Coast, I wasn’t too confident seeing so many other linebackers but my love of competing and heart made me want it more and I guess the rest is history.”
I was able to get to know Marcos properly at the end of the 2015 season. UTS Head Coach Rocco Bosco had been named the Head Coach for the NSW Wolfpack for the 2016 AGL campaign and I went to the selection trials. My first proper introduction to Marcos was during a gauntlet drill where Marcos filled in at Running Back and I was in at Safety. Let’s just say, I was seeing stars for at least the next 5 minutes. There was no wonder he was an Australian linebacker, he hits like a damn Mack Truck! We were both selected to the Wolfpack team (well Marcos was a given) and we began our AGL campaign. NSW were hammered by the Raiders and Sundevils in both our away games but I never saw Delana’s faith and work rate fade once. He was always pushing the defence to be their very best, even though we had over 100 points scored against us in both games. This is something every team needs in their ranks; someone who, regardless of the score, is always pushing others to be their best and giving 110% on the field. Our third game was against SA at home and we were handed our third loss to end an extremely disappointing AGL campaign. After the game, I saw Delana speaking the Head Coach for the Australian Outback Team (and head coach for the UNSW Raiders) Paul Manera. Coach Manera has been pivotal in the development and success of the Australian and UNSW teams in recent years. Delana then travelled with Coach Manera to Tahiti with the rest of the Australian Outback Development Squad to compete in the Tahitian Festival of American Football. The Outback won both their games against American Samoa and Tahiti and Delana was named defensive captain.
Later in 2016, the GNSW was shocked with the news that marquee LB Marcos Delana had moved from UTS to UNSW. Delana remarked that this wasn’t anything personal, “I moved to the Raiders in 2016 to improve my training, nothing against Coach Bosco. But this was going to start my transition to bigger and better things.” With Delana in their ranks, the Raiders finished 3rd overall and had the number 2 ranked defence in the league (behind eventual GNSW Waratah Bowl Champions Sydney University). Those closer to Delana knew he would eventually continue on to bigger and better things and that he did, announcing late in 2016 that he had been signed by Head Coach John Leijten (who is also on the coaching staff for the Australian Outback) to go and play in Germany for the Dresden Monarchs. For someone who’s done it all, he still believes that the sky is the limit, “I would love to play in the US one day but as I get older, it gets a lot harder. But I’m not giving up. I don’t think I’ve hit my peak yet so I’m going to keep pushing myself and keep going and see where this road takes me.”
It could be argued that Delana is the most successful GNSW player in recent years but with all that success, he’s still humble as anything. “My biggest inspiration in life is my mother. We’ve been through a lot and I was on the brink of giving up a few times but she was always there to motivate me and keep me going when no one was there for me. Every time I put on the pads and my helmet, I’m doing it for her. Love ya mum!”
Wish you all the best mate and see you when you get back to Australia soon!
*Dresden kick off their season on Saturday the 6th of May at home against the Hildesheim Invaders