Interview: Tristan Solo - A True Veteran

Tristan Solo was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain. He played for teams across Europe and The States. Although he's been retired for couple years now, we had to share his story!







Background

2000 Toluca Tech - college, Mexico
2001 Toluca Tech - college, Mexico 
2002 Vienna Vikings, Austria 
2003 Hospitalet Pioners, Spain 
2003 Eisdvoll 1814s, Norway 
2004 Valencia Firebats, Spain 
2004 Eidsvoll 1814s, Norway 
2004 Sea City Storm, Finland 
2005 Eidsvoll 1814s, Norway 
2005 Connecticut Thunder, USA
2006 Quad City Steamwheelers, USA 
2006 Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz, USA
2006 Carlstad Crusaders, Sweden 
2007 Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz, USA

The Begining

I started playing football in Spain with my family back in 1990. I played for a few programs and couple Team Europe squads. When College time came I just didn't know where to start (paperwork, visas and money).

All of a sudden I got offer a scholarship to Toluca Tech by their HC, the great DGM, who at the time was coaching in Europe. At the time there were several Mexicans doing good in the NFLE and playing in the Euro leagues so I didn't think twice. The top division is (or was) pretty much the same as a middle of the table NCAA D2 , running several scrimmages in the preseason against NCAA and NAIA with both wins and losses.

Vienna Vikings

After my sophmore season in Mexico, I decided I wanted to go back to Europe. I sent film to several top teams at that time and I got signed right away by Vienna. It was a good experience, I pulled a hamstring and had AC joint injury so that didn't let me play to my abilities, but to this day I still have good friends and memories from Austria.

Playing 2-3 football seasons in a single year

I have always loved the gym and staying in shape. My big and only issue had been pulled/ tore hamstrings and concussions. Some teams would call half way their season when they need to get in the playoffs, and if the timming and offer was right I was there. 

2004 was fun, I signed for 2 games with a team in Spain that just signed my 2 roommates from college, so I went down there. 2 road games against better teams and we won both and clinched a spot for the playoffs.

The week after I reported with my Norwegian team, played a full season and won the title. From playing in the EFAF Cup with them, I had many offers from the teams we played against, so I signed with another team for their second half of the season, then back home, keep  training and living out of my savings and wait for signing season again.

Arena Football

In 2005 after winning another Norwegian tittle, got the option of playing in the semi pro leagues in USA. I dominated my position so I wanted more, and one of the coaches told me about the Arena Football 2 (development league) were interested on expanding to Europe, so each team was allowed to sign a non American player.

I got an agent, we sent some film and talked to a few teams and signed after a few weeks. If you (like me) are an European kid that always dreamed to play football where football is played, that would be where you wanted to be - lots of ups and downs, but I was lucky enough to end up with a team that at the time was leading the league in attendance, in a decent size city with interest. Also, I was lucky enough to make it to the playoffs both seasons and be able to contribute to the team on the field. 

Arena is a tough business, lots of injuries, players get signed and released on a daily basis. No job is safe.

Memories

A few come to mind. My first Team Europe in Miami I was lost, couldn't speak much English, they moved me from WR to CB, and the special teams coach didn't want me on the field - "he wanted the best athletes only..."

Next year with the Team Europe again in Atlanta, 1st kick off I forced a fumble, 2nd kick off I forced another fumble, 3rd kick off got a solo tackle inside the 5. It was cool to watch film next day. 

First game of the season in college I was named Captain in the Olympic stadium, first catch was a 99 yard TD. 

In the AF2, my first game after being traded from Iowa, I went down the field and recovered a lose ball and almost scored. 

My first game of my 2nd season we played at home against the team that traded me the year before, at the time they were ranked #1, I printed some articles where their HC was talking bad about me and had them hanging from my locker. They came to our Arena (same were the OKC Thunder plays) we started fighting since warm ups.They were up by just a couple of points until in a kick off, got there first and stripped the ball and ended up being a safety. We took over and won. Our HC told the papers that play changed the momentum of the game.

Words of Wisdom

As an undersized European kid with a dream, I honestly had to work for everything in my life, never took the easy road. Remember the movie "INVINCIBLE"? - came out at the same time I finished my first season of Arena. I couldn't hold my tears, because I had to go through so much shit, I even got to talk to the real Vince Papale. 

From coaches looking me down, to teammates complaining I was making them sweat at practice, to sleeping on the floor, to equipment manager giving my equipment to other players and me having to use almost a different set for every game. Most people, would have quit, matter of fact you can count with one hand the non american players that played more than 1 season in that league. 

In Europe you get way more money and get treated way better but the level is not the same. I wanted the challenge, so I kept fighting and don't letting things push me away from my dream. 

Playing in a dirt field somewhere in Europe might feel like your are far from achieving your dream, but just train like someone is watching, I guarantee you sometime down the road someone will notice you.

Mia Bajin
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