East Kent Mavericks football is back, which means a return to the best time of the year – football season. For Danny Carroll and Tyrrell Bovelle, it means a return to the sport which has taken them across the globe in ways they never thought possible.
Starting together with the Mavericks in 2014, the pair have grown with the team and been with it through many changes. From a great, tightly-knit junior team, through rebuilds of the junior and senior programs, to a new look Mavericks in 2020, they have seen it all with East Kent.
Perhaps the team’s biggest impact on Tyrrell and Danny is where the game has taken them, and where it can still lead them.
“I’ve travelled to America twice to go and play, I’ve experienced a different culture, a different lifestyle, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Tyrrell. He added: “I would have never done it if it wasn’t for football.”
In 2017 Danny was able to be a part of the Europe Warriors Junior team. The Warriors are an independent football team made up of players from across Europe’s best leagues. Danny made the team and flew to Mexico with the team to play against the Mexican National Team.
He said: “It was completely different to anything I’d ever experienced before.” The team would have early starts to go over the gameplan, followed by two to three practices, then workouts, followed by rehab , physio, massages, film study, and playbook study.
“They weren’t messing about. I loved it. I learnt so much,” said Danny.
Just months later, through Europlayers.com, the duo was approached by a high school football had coach from Maryland, Westminster Owls HC Matthew Study, who invited them to be a part of his preseason camp.
With the high school team, the pair were able to experience training and facilities akin to the top universities in the UK.
“The level of training they have out there… it doesn’t even compete. We do it is a hobby – they live football. That really shows,” said Ty. The team they played on included players who have since moved on to Division 1 college programs, or are in the process of recruiting, and Danny and Tyrrell even got a taste of that recruiting.
Danny said: “All while lifting and learning playbook, we were visiting colleges, Division 1 colleges, Division 2 as well. It was crazy to see the facilities and how it worked. We spoke with head coaches about opportunities if we wanted to go there. We were building bridges with people.”
Although those experiences didn’t immediately materialize into tangible outcomes, this trip paved the way for even bigger things in the future.
Later in the same year, 2018, Danny was back with the Europe Warriors, this time with the Seniors.
“The step up was huge. It was my first serious senior experience,” said Danny, having spent much of his first season with the Mavericks season on the sidelines grinding for his opportunity.
He continued: “I was lining up against linebackers in the slot who were three times the size of me but were jogging when I was sprinting. It was a different level.
“I learned that I could compete against those types. I was still 18/19 at that point, so I knew that if I went back home and got stronger, by the time I was their age – mid-twenties – then I could compete, and it was possible, not just a dream.”
With the senior team the stage increased, too. Having played in front of 10,000 people with the Juniors, Danny now played in front of 30,000+ people against a Division 1 college in Mexico. This time the Warriors came out as 19-10 victors, with Danny seeing gametime on special teams and at receiver.
But bigger things were still to come.
After playing the 2019 season with the Mavericks, the dream to play the game abroad and semi-professionally persisted for both Danny and Tyrrell, and ahead of the 2020 season Danny had offers from two European teams. He was set to go to Spain when a coach they had met in America in 2018, Westminster HS defensive coordinator Joe Page, reached out to Danny and Tyrrell with the opportunity to play semi-professional ball for his new team, the Hanover Rhinos.
Danny said: “When first got to America, our first session, I was scared. I was nervous. I thought I was gonna get eaten alive.”
Tyrrell added: “Everyone knows what they’re doing. It’s not just a hobby. You have to try hard to fit in. You have to compete to show people you can play and you know what you’re doing.”
They did just that, each of them wowing their new teammates with splash plays and highlights in training and in preseason games. Unfortunately, though, COVID-19 was just starting as they got out to America, and after just three months – they were planning on staying five to six months – they had to return home and have been waiting for football to return since.
“I was playing the best football I’ve ever played. Everything was just working in perfect motion. I can’t explain what happened, but I feel like I really excelled there. I didn’t find it challenging at all once I got into the groove. I felt like I was supposed to be there, I can do this, I can compete,” Danny said.
He went on: “I cannot wait to go back out there for the Mavs and do something. I wanna show how much I’ve improved and what I can do. I’m excited for that, it’s gonna be fun to get back out there and start hitting people again.”
Tyrrell finished: “Football goes further than football. The way I train at the gym was impacted by football. It gives you more goals. It makes your whole life better. It makes your whole being better. It gives you a routine, it gives you an outlet – something else to focus on.
“It’s a great sport and a great community to get in to, and there are a lot of people who are like minded. You can make friends and be around people who have the same aspirations.
“Dan and I are very different people when you look at our backgrounds and the things we do, but something like football and playing together, that one thing has gotten us this close. It’s nearly a 10-year friendship from it! It’s nice to know that something so simple can bring people together that much.”