Collin Erickson tackles football competition in Europe - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Collin Erickson tackles football competition in Europe

June 17th, 2018 development
Collin Erickson tackles football competition in Europe
Sports and Recreation

By Brian Benesch, Sports Editor


The game of football has taken Collin Erickson all over the world. In just the past two years, he’s traveled from Gilbert to Iowa to Germany.

Late last week, the Gilbert native and 2015 Dobson High School graduate arrived home from an eight-day trip to Europe with his current football team, the Central College Dutch.

The Division III squad, located in Pella, Iowa, travels to Europe once every three years. And this time, Erickson was able to hop on a plane alongside his teammates.

The Dutch players are responsible for choosing the destination of these off-season excursions. They decided on Germany, Austria and Switzerland at a team meeting in September.

It was an opportunity Erickson couldn’t refuse.

“It intrigued me to go back to Europe because I studied abroad my sophomore year,” Erickson said. “I definitely wanted to go back. We got to see the Swiss Alps and climb up those a little bit.”

As the journey continued to Germany, the players and coaches visited the Dachau concentration camp and a survivor spoke to the group.

The defensive back declared the entire experience eye-opening and unforgettable.

Of course, there was far more to this trip than just exploration as the team had an exhibition game to play.

Central took on the Swarco Raiders Triol, a top Austrian unit. A hard-fought battle resulted in a 31-26 win for the Raiders in this unique contest.

“It was incredible; great atmosphere there,” Erickson said of the game. “Truly incredible to show their fans what an American college team looks like against the best Austrian football team. We knew they were a top-notch team.”

But one thing stood out to Erickson when reminiscing about the voyage overseas: his interactions with the Austrian players.

“We had a tailgate of sorts with them after the game. We just talked to them about where they grew up and how they got into American football. We picked their brains to understand where they are coming from,” he said.

With the trip in the rearview mirror, the junior was able to reflect on his hectic schedule the past three years filled with travel and football. The European visit was a remarkable experience, but Erickson’s journey to Central College was just as memorable.

The 21-year-old had his sights set on Division I football after a stellar sophomore year at Dobson High. But an inconsistent junior season had Erickson doubting his future in the sport.

“My junior year came and I didn’t hear from a lot of schools. I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue playing football,” he admitted. “After high school, hardly any colleges talked to me. I had to reach out myself.”

He eventually found his way to Central thanks to an unlikely college recruiter – his mother. Erickson’s mom grew up in the Iowa area, and thought the program might be a fit for her son.

The Dutch have the fourth-highest winning percentage in NCAA football since 1975, making the program a consistent contender for the Division III crown. The on and off-field connections made the choice easy for Erickson.

His decision has paid off. Last season, Erickson was among team leaders with 46 tackles and two interceptions. The team has a record of 15-5 in his two seasons.

But the special European trip and team success is not enough for him. Erickson has lofty goals for the upcoming season.

“I’d like to keep improving and take that next step,” he said. “I’d like to win the conference. My goal is to be a first-team all-conference defensive back. We’re pretty hungry to get back at it.”