Former Willows High School standout Cody Pastorino is back home for the Holidays. And he has quite the story to tell about palying professional American-style football in Germany. Not bad for a former Honker, but his new mascot may be even better. Action News Now's Ross Field reports.
"I'm playing for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns!" Cody Pastorino says.
"You know when I first signed and announced I was going to play for the Unicorns, my Facebook wall was just covered with fluffy unicorns and rainbows and unicorns on skates you know, everybody giving me a hard time. I think it's awesome."
It is awesome. And funny. But on the field the Unicorns are no joke.
"This year went 17-0, we were pefect," said Pastorino.
Schwäbisch Hall defeated the New Yorker Lions in the German Bowl - the American equivalent to the Super Bowl - by a final score of 14-13.
Pastorino played a big role in the success. The starting defensive back finished with 59 tackles, three interceptions, twelve pass break-ups, one sack and two blocked kicks this season.
After winning the championship, he says he was a part of a big celebration in Schwäbisch Hall.
"It's big party in the markplaats where the church is and the Mayor's office, the Mayor's building is right there. Then everybody gets to get announced and you walk out on the Mayor's balcony holding the trophy. 4,000-5,000 thousand people, go out for about ten seconds holding the trophy up, it was all worth it," says Pastorino.
So, how did this opportunity come about for Cody?
Well, he can thank some college connections from his days at Willamette University in Oregon.
"A couple guys at Willamette during my time there had gone overseas and played and just loved it and they're like, 'this is something you have to do.' I was lucky enough to have a great senior year and used some Sillamette connections that were across in Europe and ended up in Germany," says Pastorino.
Pastorino has played for Schwäbisch Hall for four seasons. He's accumulated 254 tackles, fifteen interceptions and four sacks while helping lead the Unicorns to four straight German Football League championship games. But this was their first victory.
He says he lives comfortably off a good stipend from the team every month.
"You're not going to be paid like an NFL or NBA player, but the setup is 'we'll cover all your expenses.' So, our apartment is covered, cars, food, gym, health insurance and then you'll get paid on top. Everything you really make is spending money," added Pastorino.
And that's helped him and girlfriend of three years Melanie Speedy spend a good amount of time traveling Europe. Pastorino says the team's upper management urges him to see the world during bye weeks and down time.
"We've done trips where we've drove through six countries in a day, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Switzerland. It's just one of those things where I wouldn't trade it right now," said Pastorino.
Makes a lot of sense.
He's getting paid to play in Germany, winning championships, living with his girlfriend, enjoying the culture and seeing the world.
Quite the success-story for this 26 year-old former Willows Honker who's now a proud Schwäbisch Hall Unicorn.
"I mean it's great. It's a great time," said Pastorino.
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