Rotary Club of Sierra Vista –A Fun Change of Pace - Rotarian Bob Logan on
“Playing for Pizza” or American Football in Italy
The Rotary Club of Sierra Vista opened its weekly ‘live/virtual’ meeting at the Tandem Restaurant in the Windemere Hotel with hearty greetings to visitors Assistant District Governor Sue Archibald, District Tech Advisor Tom Nelson, and the speaker for the program “Playing for Pizza” – Immediate Past President of the Tucson Rotary Club, Bob Logan.  As Bob tells it, “in a nutshell, after 33 years at the UA (3 as a football coach, 10 as an Associate Director of Athletics, and 20 as an Assistant Dean in the College of Science), I have recently retired and have decided to pursue a consulting and public speaking business.”
Bob is regularly active in the Tucson community and besides being the Immediate Past President of the Tucson Rotary Club, he is a board member of the Davis Monthan-50 (DM-50) and a member of the Centurions. He is a member of the Association of Fund-Raising Professionals (AFP) and has been a long-time football coach and has served on the Salpointe Catholic High School Board of Advisors. Football has been in his blood since his high school days at Salpointe and continued into his time as a University of Arizona football coach under Coach Larry Smith in the mid 1980’s.
The story begins early in his career as a football coach at U of A, when he heard about an opportunity to be a head football coach for an Italian team playing American football. At age 30, this seemed like a great opportunity and he applied for the position and was accepted. Thus, began his days of ‘Playing for Pizza’ and the basis for the presentation, which offered us a change of pace for fun and enjoyment. In fact, that is one of his key messages - take the road less traveled, and you will marvel about what you learn from the people, places, and opportunities along the journey.
There is a book about American football in Italy written by novelist John Grisham called, “Playing for Pizza.” When asked why he had written a book with that subject, John Grisham said the inspiration for his book came from a visit to Bologna, Italy when he was researching his novel, “The Broker.” While there he discovered American football when one of his guides in the area told him he had played football for the Bologna Warriors for 10 years.  John Grisham said he could not believe that American football existed there and became greatly intrigued about capturing what was involved in how this American institution was played in small town Italy.  As a result, a major source for his research was an American coach for the Warriors who played at Illinois State, who was able to give John Grisham extremely valuable information to help the story unfold in the novel.
Bob Logan was going to be living the real life experience as a coach and though his talk on "Playing for Pizza" is not about the John Grisham novel by that name, it is the same subject matter – the experience of coaching an Italian team (mostly) playing American brand Football in a city in Italy.  In this presentation, Bob was able to provide insights on how to push your own boundaries and approach life from a totally different perspective.
After being accepted for the coaching position, Bob Logan packed up and flew to Bologna, Italy to be the head coach for the Bologna Doves. Bob jokes about the name not being ‘macho’ enough, like the ‘Killer Doves” or the “Demon Doves,” but then there was also a team called the ‘Frogs.’ Nonetheless, Bob was happy to be joining a team in a Football Division that was equivalent to a good Junior College Conference or a Division II College Football team.
It was a challenge for Bob because he spoke no Italian. Fortunately, on his team, there were about 5 players who spoke almost fluent English – well, American. Two of those players were Americans who had played in college and the other three English speakers were to become the translators for all the football teaching that was to happen. The fact that one of those player’s was also the team quarterback was a great benefit to Bob as he worked to develop his team.
His lack of speaking Italian did not make too much difference for Bob as the use of ‘football terminology’ was what was the common language for all the players – so ‘Red Dog 2” and ‘Slant 4’ might refer to a defensive blitz and a crossing pattern for a receiver, but there was no need to translate that into Italian – it was understood by the players as it was.
In the book by John Grisham and as it was for Bob Logan, the experiences and friendships were the key points to playing American football in Italy. There were 95 to 100 teams at various levels or divisions in Italy with Ownership Groups building teams with 2 or 3 ‘paid players’ and the rest of the players ‘playing for pizza.’ Bob became particularly good friends with the owner of the team and learned to enjoy the Italian approach to American football. Like in the United States with professional sports, fans and sponsors are crucial to success. The fans in Italy brought the European approach to games with banners and drums, and horns and costumes, while sponsors for the teams were critical to being able to keep teams together, and logos for the multiple sponsors made uniforms “look like a NASCAR automobile” with 5-10-15 logos on the uniforms.
According to Bob, the fans, and players along with the owners and sponsors for the team, all accepted him and became good friends with him during the 1-year tenure he stayed as head coach. His team went 12-1-1 but lost in the semi-final game before the championship. One of his players from that team is now the owner of the Bologna Doves and has a couple of his other player friends in the Italian American Football League. Bob is happy to say he made friends forever in Italy and has enjoyed visits from a number of those friends.
It was immediately obvious to the club members, that Bob’s new career in consulting and motivational talks is a splendid choice for his talents. His humorous and friendly delivery easily drew us into his story and helped us enjoy his experiences of ‘living life to the utmost’ and “having a positive work-life balance in one’s life.” Bob says he can provide consulting services in the areas of fundraising and development as well as sales and leadership. He speaks monthly at Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa for corporate clients and for non-profit organizations.
Bob can be contacted at his website or and also by email or phone at and (work) 520-626-1010. We again thanked Bob for his fun and entertaining talk on “Playing for Pizza.”
Go-o-o-o DOVES!!!
MONDAY, AUG. 31 WE ARE DARK at lunch---our traditional "Dine Around" on the 5th Monday is "Dine WAY-WAY Around": for those interested, SATELLITE members included(!) there will be a Bring Your Own Picnic dinner at the Perimeter Parking lot on Miller Canyon Road--bring your picnic dinner, beverages, and chairs for you and your family--meet at 5:30 PM at the parking area, park, set out your chairs at appropriate social distancing and share the evening with Satellite and Traditional Club members and families!  Walking up the canyon and enjoying the beauty of the evening is an option. Well-mannered dogs are welcome. Birthday and anniversary cake for dessert will be available!!