Michigan football has gone international.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh took his team across the pond for a week-long trip to Italy, where the players got to take in the historic sites and culture, practice in a soccer stadium, and, of course, meet the Pope.
Harbaugh gave the pontiff his own pair of Air Jordan Retro 5s and a Michigan helmet:
— Alan Holdren (@AlanHoldren) April 26, 2017
Throughout his career, Harbaugh has been known to do things his own way and this international trip was no different. While most coaches are buckling down for summer practice preparations and the 2017 season, Harbaugh took his team to the other side of the world for a week of football, education, and fun, too.
"This should be experienced by others, and once someone sees someone else do something, they see it's possible," Harbaugh said to USA Today about the trip. "This is a good way to spend our resources: Investing in players. We can't close ourselves off. We have to connect with the rest of the world. This has been a really dynamic learning experience."
Hundreds of fans came out to watch the Wolverines practice at the Stadio dei Marmi, which is right next door to the Stadio Olimpico, the biggest sports venue in Rome and home to Serie A clubs Lazio and Roma:
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) May 2, 2017
Harbaugh really got into it when he took the team through some gladiator training, dueling against offensive coordinator Tim Drevno with swords and shields:
— Zoltán Buday (@PFF_Zoltan) April 28, 2017
Harbaugh said that he hopes to do another trip in the future with the team, possibly to South Africa or Brazil the next time around.
"From this experience, it's been amazing. We're all similar. We're all part of the same team: the human race,” Harbaugh said. “When you throw out a ball, there is no language barrier anymore. Everybody's speaking the same language. So we feel like innovators. We feel like pioneers. Innovators for the good."
The Michigan players will have plenty of time to rest after their adventure to Rome: The team will have off the entire month of May.
— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) April 29, 2017