Perfect Pervis had one hell of a 2016!! So as I look forward to the future, let me give you a peek of how 2016 helped mold me into the person I am today. Of course football plays a major part in my 2016 memories, but I am human so there are other aspects I’d like to share with you in this article.
From February to September I had the privilege of being Head Coach of the Kotka Eagles, participating in Division III of the Finnish American Football League (SAJL). This season was easily one of the most important life experiences I have ever had. Learning the ins and outs of Finnish culture towards American Football in addition to teaching x’s and o’s proved to be worth the effort put forth. After a short learning curve period, we ended the season on a nine game win streak while capturing the Tina Malja and becoming league champions. I’d like to thank the entire Eagles organization for the opportunity, and wish them the best in their future.
MAPLE LEAGUE FOOTBALL
The Vaahteraliiga or Maple League is the highest division of American Football played in Finland. This past summer I made it a priority to become familiar with the happenings in the league. Being a foreigner made some things more difficult than others (thank you Google Translate), but the end result was satisfying. I traveled all over Finland this summer watching some good, and some bad football games. The experience has helped me understand a great deal about where American Football is in my new home country, and how I can fit into the culture. It was awesome to talk different players, coaches, and league representatives about the games as well as the future of the sport. It’s comforting to know that despite the strangeness of this country to me, I can always get away on a summer weekend and watch the game I love.
I enjoy the gym as much as the next football player, but after 15+ years it does get boring. Luckily for me, I have found a fun way to challenge myself physically and have a fun time with 5k events. This year I enjoyed my time at the Color Obstacle Rush, Twilight Run Helsinki, and Espoo Rantamaraton. I plan on attending them again in 2017, so you’re more than welcome to join in the fun!!
PERFECT PERVIS BLOG
In May I launched the Perfect Pervis blog in an attempt to stay connected to the world through football. My original hopes were to create a small following writing about American Football in general. After a short period of adjustment to my writing style and topic choice, I found my voice through this blog. My blog became a way for me to connect with the American Football community in Finland as well as all over the world. I have received plenty of feedback, including corrections when I’m wrong (very seldom, but it happens), and have learned to use all of it to produce a better product with each additional post. Thanks to my Finnish community’s support of my articles, I have been fortunate to expand my audience by contributing to various websites. Currently, some of my work can be found on AmericanFootballInternational.com, GridIron.fi, and TheInsideZone.com. This blog has probably been the single most important development to my assimilation to life here in Finland. If you have ever met me in person you know I am a talker and have lots to say ALL the time, so this is beyond therapeutic for me to get my words out to anyone who will read. So I hope despite the length of this article, you guys keep reading, kiitos.
I’m not sure how much of my personal life is represented in my past posts, but not a day goes by I don’t mention my wife in casual conversation. Originally married in the summer of 2014 in Texas, my wife and I decided that Finland deserved its own wedding celebration of our love and commitment to each other. With a tremendous amount of help from our Finnish family and friends, we were married in June. #pervis2016 was my attempt to have the party trending on Instagram, check out the hashtag we have about 20 photos on the gram! I won’t go into the details of the wedding, but I will let you know that it was the best way for me to get to know my new relatives and some of my new Finnish friends on a level that can’t be replicated.
When I decided to write this article, I had planned on going into depth about my life experiences of the past year in Finland. A sub section in a larger audience would not do it any justice, so I will save that detailed article for a later date (summer 2017?). But I will give you a few details of my time here so far. There are many different views of the Finnish people, and I will agree that almost every view has an amount of truth to it. What I won’t write is that the Finnish people should be lumped together as a group of anything. In my year here I have seen awesome acts of kindness, as well as some of the worst acts of ignorant hatred, from the young to the old citizens of this country. I think that Finland is like any other country in the world, you need to live it to understand it. As an American, I think it’s crazy to sit in a hot sauna, then go jump in a freezing(remember I’m from Texas) cold lake, but here that’s just what we do during Mid Summer, right? After 29 years of life, I decided I do not like coffee. After 3 months in Suomi, I take my coffee strong with just a little milk, in the morning and of course in the afternoon with Pulla. Is life here different, yes. Is life here better or worse, no it’s different. I can’t speak on anyone else’s experiences, but I can tell you that Finland is my home now, so watch ya mouth.
I had no intentions of playing football in 2016. For personal reasons I wanted to spend the year with my wife and learning the basics about my new home, Suomi. By August, I was physically bored as hell of going to the gym, and missed running (don’t let any of my previous coaches know that). With my coaching season winding down with the Eagles, and with my wife’s blessing, I began looking at my options. I live in Finland, so wherever I wanted to play needed to be in Finland and a reasonable distance from my residence. This is how the Division I Helsinki Wolverines became one of the few options I would consider. The biggest factor in deciding to join the Wolverines was the head coach Robert Johnson. I had the chance to see Robert in situations outside of football which helped me determine that he was a man of great character and someone I could get accustomed to being around. In October, I began playing basketball with the Wolverines in the 5th Division in Finland. We are not very good, but I really enjoyed the time spent with future teammates and understanding the different attitudes of some of the players. In November I began practicing American Football with the Helsinki Wolverines. BEST DECISION. . . EVER! I won’t give out any specifics, but we are DAMN good! More than that, the Wolverines organization is ran like a well oiled machine. No less than 25 people at a practice, even though the average is closer to 40. The women’s team has similar numbers as well as the junior program. Not only are there players, but each of these team have the appropriate number of coaches as well. The men’s team has at least 8 coaches, if I can recall correctly. THIS is how football should be done! I won’t comment about other team’s, but i’m home and I love it! We have very high expectations for the 2017 season and everything is in place for us to be successful, nothing more exciting than that.
It all started with the blog, but then it got out of hand! For almost 2 years I have been a part of a facebook group called Sports Politic’en. Do not look it up, it’s a private group! In this group of well over 500 members, we discuss all thing sports and it leads to some of the best conversations I have ever been a part of. There are plenty of 100+ comment threads in that group that are worth putting on the internet. At least once a month someone writes in the group “These ESPN experts no nothing, we should have our own show”, which is finally by a lot yeas and then the idea is forgotten. This summer was different, a few guys actually went about setting up a youtube channel, and Sports Politic’en Presents: Agree to Disagree was created! Originally a live game show hoping to engage with an audience, the show has taken on its own life now as it is more focused on debating important sports issues and spreading awareness of these issues. Doing this show has kept me in touch with my fellow Americans, while still providing me with a unique view as I live abroad in Europe. If you have read any of my previous articles, you will love this show where we openly discuss anything sports related. Go to SportsPoliticen.com to checkout the show.
THE INSIDE ZONE UK
Social media is a hit or miss phenomenon. A few months ago (I honestly don’t remember exactly when) I connected with The Inside Zone through twitter to become a staff writer on NFL football games. After the success if my personal blog, this seemed like a logical thing to do and keep me up to date with real American Football. The Inside Zone is based in the United Kingdom and is run by editor Tom Like. If you’re based in Europe it’s a great source of information about all things NFL. After writing a few articles, The Inside Zone decided to have a few of the writers get together to do a weekly recap of all the NFL games for people to listen to during their morning commute to work. Being a part of yet another podcast just seemed like good exposure to me, so I was for sure in. What I didn’t realize was that this podcast was what I needed in my life! As much as I love talking sports with my American co-hosts, these Englishmen understand FOOTBALL! We have been doing the podcast for about 6 or 7 weeks now and the focus has shifted from recaps to NFL topics as we near the end of the season. If not to just listen about the NFL, check out the podcast to hear the different English accents, on iTunes and Sound Cloud: The Inside Zone.
Have a conversation with me, I will find a way to work in the fact that my wife coaches basketball. She has done so for a very long time (something like 15+ years), and is very good at it. This year she took over as the Head Coach for a very special group of U16 girls at JYMY Basket. As the coach’s husband my duties include: show up to the games. Originally, I was ok with that, but this club has an infectious type of family feel to them. Parents of the players are very considerate of my cultural difficulties and attempt to include me as much as possible. But the girls though. . . watching them grow through the game and in their personal lives gives me ultimate joy. I have the privilege of creating a season long strength and conditioning program for these young ladies to do my part in their overall development. I sometimes fill in as the 6th man at practices, or assistant coach at games, but in reality I am the girls’ biggest fan and wouldn’t have it any other way. #GoJYMY
At the end of 2015 I had an idea, by 2016 that idea became my purpose. Beginning this blog was part of the idea. Understanding football in Finland was part of the idea. Increasing my social media presence was part of the idea. Coaching football was part of the idea. I enjoy teaching football more than playing it! Yes that is not a statement based on declining play (Look for me withe the Helsinki Wolverines this summer), it is an example of my passion for the game. Football is played all over the world at various levels for different reasons. Some people are trying to become professionals, some people just want to be the best they can be, and some people just want to have fun. As a world traveler, I understand these different views on the game that gives me life. I believe that my passion and understanding of football can help people from all walks of life find out what it means to them. In October 2016, it became official that Pervis Football will be of service to the world in spreading American Football knowledge. This is my purpose.