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Taking football from Whitewater to the world

Berezowitz, Kleppe selected for World Cup team play in Japan

UW Sports information

(Published March 6, 2007, 4:40 p.m.)

Former UW-Whitewater head football coach Bob Berezowitz has been selected to serve as a member of the coaching staff, and All-American defensive lineman Ryan Kleppe has been selected to play for an American Football Coaches Association all-star team in Japan iin July.

The opportunity is part of the World Cup of American Football, an international championship held every four years. The championship will feature six teams with representatives from the United States and several countries including Korea, Germany, Finland and France.

The team will consist of 45 athletes from Divisions I, IAA, II and III. Kleppe was nominated by Berezowitz.

"I sent a video tape of Ryan to John Mackovich who is the former coach from Illinois, Arizona, Texas and the Kansas City Chiefs and who has been selected to serve as head coach in Japan. He said he wanted Ryan on the team. I think his reputation and the awards he has received make him the type of young man that we want to represent the United States," Berezowitz said.

The group will leave June 18 and travel to San Jose State University in California where they will practice for a few weeks before heading to Japan July 4. After arriving in Japan, the teams representing each country will be divided into two pools with three teams in each. The teams will then have about a week to practice before playing a series of three games in 10 days.

"I've never been involved with preparing for something in that short amount of time. The players are going to have to be in shape and we're going to have to get them to mold together as a football team just like we would in pre-season camp," Berezowitz said.

The team will be made up of players who have finished their eligibility and are looking for another opportunity to play football. Final team selection will have to wait until after the NFL draft since those that are selected to participate in NFL camps this summer will not be able to play in Japan because of the time constraints. The trip will provide players like Kleppe with another opportunity to play football.

"Ryan could have been an Aztec Bowl participant, but since we were playing in the national championship he didn't have that opportunity. A lot of the other Division III guys that are being looked at to play in this championship had the opportunity to play in the Aztec Bowl but Ryan didn't, so I think this will be a great opportunity for him," Berezowitz said.

Kleppe says he is looking forward to the trip and the opportunity to play football again.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to play again and to see a different culture too. I'll have the opportunity to go to Japan and take that in as a tourist as well as playing football. Also, if I do well in Japan, maybe word of mouth will get me another opportunity to play," Kleppe said.

Berezowitz is excited about the opportunity to coach overseas and to experience a new and different culture.

"I think it will be similar to the Olympics, and since Japan is hosting I have a feeling we will be treated very well and maybe escorted around and shown sights. I think it will be different than just being an ordinary tourist because they see the participants in this event as something special," Berezowitz said.

Berezowitz also says he thinks the championship will be a great opportunity to represent UW-Whitewater overseas.

"It's a great opportunity for UW-Whitewater to be recognized on an international level."

Berezowitz concluded his 22 year coaching career at UW-Whitewater in 2006 by leading the team to a second consecutive 14-1 season, a second consecutive undefeated Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference season, and a second consecutive finish as the national runner-up in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III football. Berezowitz retired with a 158-73-5 career record, the second most in school history and third most in WIAC history. Six Warhawks received All-American honors in 2006 under Berezowitz's tutelage, including Kleppe.

Kleppe, the 2006 D3football.com Defensive Player of the Year, ranked 15th in the nation among Division III teams in sacks per game at 1.0 and 28th in the nation in tackles for loss per game with 1.7 in 2006. A 2006 finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy, Kleppe ranks third in WIAC history for career sacks with 29 and second in WIAC history for total tackles for loss with 64.

 

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