The Great Dane
Mathias Mazanti turning heads for Rice football
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Playing at home each of the first two weeks, Rice was able to down Woodstock and Otter Valley thanks to great play on both sides of the ball. There are a lot of guys in Vermont high school football that play both sides of the ball, but none like Rice’s new number 22.
Green Kight running back and linebacker Mathias Mazanti is from Odense, Denmark, and he just started playing American football a couple years ago.
“It all started with my stepdad,” Mazanti said. “He showed me a video of Christian McCaffrey’s highlight tape, and I just fell in love with football. And then I started playing in Denmark.”
But despite his relative inexperience in the game, Mazanti quickly climbed the ranks at his homeland, earning a spot on one of Denmark’s junior national teams.
“The best kids from Denmark can go and play against other kids from other countries, which I think is very cool,” he said. “And you get a lot of friendships around the country in that way.”
Wanting to see how far he could go in the game, Mazanti started looking for exchange program in the States.
“I had heard from his contact person at Rice,” said new Green Knight head coach Chad Cioffi. “She let me know he’s a perspective football player. He’s coming here to play football.”
“I wanted to go to a Northern state,” Mazanti said. “I saw there was a opportunity here in Vermont, and then I heard about Rice, and the educational level is also really good here.”
The St. Peter family took on the responsibility as Mazanti’s host family.
“I lived in Korea for 11 years and that’s where my boys were born,” said Mazanti’s “host dad,” Travis St. Peter. “I think culture is a very important part of learning and life.”
“Most of the time I have spent teaching them Danish language,” Mazanti said. “Basically the Danish word ‘hygge’, which is like a nice, cozy feeling.”
It hasn’t been hard for Mazanti to make friends.
“He’s really friendly,” said Rice senior captain and Travis’ son Luke St. Peter. “So once you first meet him, it’s usually a good impression.”
“It’s been special,” added Luke’s younger brother Dallas, Rice’s sophomore quarterback. “We have that bond where I know he’s always going to be there for me. And I know I have his back too.”
“That kid is a leader,” Cioffi added. “He’s just got that contagious type of personality that you want to be around.”
Sharing the cultural experience is a key part of this for everyone, but Mazanti also has his eyes on what’s next.
“I would like to go to a prep school or a college,” Mazanti said of his football career.
“As a running back, he had a great first game of 132 yards rushing and a touchdown,” Cioffi pointed out. “Defensively, I would think twice before I try to run through his gap responsibility.”
“It’s definitely been a blessing for us as he comes in with all of his energy,” Dallas St. Peter added. “His passion for the game makes me want to push harder and make my teammates push harder so we can get him to the place he wants to be.”
“I would like to take the next step and see how far I can go in American football,” Mazanti said. “That’s my dream. That’s why I came here. So that’s what I’m gonna do.”
If he keeps playing like this, he just might get there. Rice’s next game is Saturday night at Spaulding.
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