Student moves to U.S. to play football

Maki Kovats, from Spain, poses with his host parents Terry and Tim Gallagher during his stay in Quincy. Kovats came to the United States with the intention of learning how to play American football. He plays for the Quincy Trojans. Photo by James Wilson
James Wilson
Sports Editor

There were two reasons 16-year-old Maki Kovats moved to Quincy this fall from Spain: to practice his English and to learn how to play American football.

Three months into his experience here, Kovats is improving at both.

“I wanted to learn something new,” said Kovats. “We don’t have football in Spain. I’m learning a lot here. Though, I do like learning football more than learning English.”

Kovats was born and raised in Spain. His mother is a Spanish citizen and his father is American. His father, Ernie Kovats, permanently moved to Spain, where he married Maki’s mom.

The American influence from Ernie apparently rubbed off on Maki, because he yearned to learn a sport that simply isn’t played in Spain. Maki decided his sophomore year would be the perfect opportunity to explore America and learn the sport. His destination: Quincy High School.

Ernie grew up with longtime Quincy High educator Terry Gallagher. The two were close friends at Del Valle High School in Walnut Creek and kept in contact long after he moved to Spain. When deciding where Maki would stay for a year, Terry and her husband Tim Gallagher offered their hospitality.

“We’ve known Maki since he was born, basically,” explained Tim. “When the prospect of him coming to the states for a year came up, we invited him over and showed him around Quincy High School.”

Maki jumped right into learning the game from the get-go, soaking up as much as he possibly could. Maki’s goal was simply to learn the game, but he ended up being a powerhouse on the field.

This season Maki played offense and defense on the junior-varsity team and has made multiple jaw-dropping plays. Defensively, Kovats has 28 tackles, six sacks and two fumble recoveries at the time of writing.

Kovats’ skills and love of the game made him think about other American sports. After having such a great experience playing football, Kovats is now contemplating playing for the Trojans’ basketball team and is certain he’ll play on the baseball team.

Kovats’ dad, Ernie, plans to travel to Quincy from Spain later this month to watch his son’s final two games of the season.

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