Last fall the Hope College football team played its first-ever game against an opponent from outside the United States when it hosted the Wildcats of the Autonomous University of Queretaro, Mexico.
Another chapter in the colorful 91-year history of Flying Dutchmen football will be written later this month when a large contingent of Hope players and coaches travel to Queretaro for a return game.
Approximately 65 Hope players, coaches and staff members will travel by plane to Queretaro on Tuesday, June 13. As guests of the Autonomous University of Queretaro, the Hope delegation will spend Wednesday through Friday touring the area, working on a community service project and conducting an instructional clinic for young people interested in the game of American football.
Highlight of the six-day stay will be a Saturday, June 17 exhibition game between the Flying Dutchmen and Wildcats.
The group will tour Mexico City before returning to the United States on Monday, June 19.
The trip to Mexico continues a partnership between the communities of Holland and Queretaro as well as the two institutions. In 1995 city officials in Holland and Santiago de Queretaro forged new political, cultural, educational and economic bonds between the two communities. Hope College and the Autonomous University of Queretaro established a formal agreement in 1996 which allows the institutions to send students and faculty to each other's campus.
Interest in each institution's athletic program began in 1997 when Dr. George Kraft of the Hope kinesiology faculty traveled to Queretaro where he shared his expertise as a football offensive line coach. Members of the Queretaro football staff came to Holland to observe the Hope team preparing for the 1998 season. Last year, before an enthusiastic crowd at Holland Municipal Stadium, the Flying Dutchmen prevailed by a 49-7 score.
The Wildcats have played the game of "American" football in 1970, but it has only been at its present level since 1993. The Flying Dutchmen will be playing a team consisting of students from the university as well some former college players.
The Hope contingent traveling to Queretaro consists of players from the 1999 team who were not seniors. Players new to the team this coming fall are not part of the group.
Because the college football season is in the fall, the Flying Dutchmen were allowed under NCAA rules 10 practice sessions to prepare for the game. Those practices occurred in April before the end of the school year.