In advance of our Senior Rookie Day this November 10th, we caught up with Dan Merritt – now entering his 5th season with the #CheetahPride – to talk to him about getting into football and his first taste of playing the sport. Dan has contributed both on and off the field for the Cheetahs, with roles on the committee and a firm place in the football family.

How did you get into American Football? 

My first experience with American football came when I was about 14 and I first played Madden on PlayStation. To begin with I didn’t fully understand what I was doing but the concept intrigued me.

I played rugby my whole life but after university grew bored of it. I was still interested in playing a team sport, and thought more about my options. American Football came up. What intrigued me most about American Football is it seemed to have a position for everyone, no matter what body type or skill set. I looked for my local team, found the Cheetahs and decided I’d take the plunge and hit the rookie day.

How was your first Cheetahs Rookie Day? 

I attended my first rookie day in 2015 with the intent of playing wide receiver. I noticed that around 25 of the 27 rookies also wanted to play receiver, so I thought I’d try defence instead. As soon as we started full contact I became hooked with the sport and with playing on D. As I started to understand the rules more I fell in love with the complexities of the game, the strategic nature of football was amazing to me and the fact that I could run full pelt into other people was an added bonus.

Dan (33) making a play against Solent Thrashers

What’s kept you coming back? 

The mantra “Football is family” became clear very quickly, and I know that the bond between the team extends further than the football field. This is one point that I don’t think is expressed enough about football and It’s definitely one of the key reasons I keep coming back! That, and delivering hits as a linebacker…


Be like Dan. Take the plunge and come to the #CheetahPride Senior Rookie Day on Sunday 10th November at St Albans RFC!

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