On the TV show “Ted Lasso,” the main character is an American coaching an English soccer team who joyfully bounces around the soccer—or football as it’s known in Europe—field and locker room shouting, “Football is life!” For Dante Fargnoli ’18, football is life. It just happens to be American football.
“I’ve always loved football,” said Fargnoli, a Connecticut native who graduated from Gettysburg College with a degree in organization and management studies after playing football for the Bullets as a wide receiver. “I applied Early Decision to Gettysburg largely because I was so excited to join the Bullets and because of the positive culture of the campus. My experience on the team and my classes helped prepare me for my career.”
Today, Fargnoli is living his dream as an NFL scout for the Atlanta Falcons. He oversees creating point-of-attack tapes for all draftable players and makes his own evaluations based on live game and Pro Day exposures. On any given week, Fargnoli visits four to six colleges in his territory, which includes Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico, meeting potential professional gridiron players. After talking with athletes, watching them play, and discussing them with the coaching staff, Fargnoli puts the first grade on a potential player—informing whether they will get a second look. He doesn’t just consider the speed and skill of a player. He also looks for individuals with character, digging deep to understand “how a player treats others—from his teammates to the equipment manager—on a day-to-day basis.”
Fargnoli said his commitment to integrity and honesty was greatly influenced by his Bullets coaches, particularly Barry Streeter, the now-retired head coach; Kevin Burke, the offensive coordinator at the time; and Jeff Wilson, his wide receivers coach.
“Some of the biggest influences in my life were my Gettysburg coaches,” he said. “Integrity was the No. 1 thing they preached and instilled in me. I brought that into the real world and believe I’ve moved up in my career quickly because I’m always upfront and honest, and I hold myself and others to the highest levels of integrity.”
In only three years, Fargnoli has moved from a scouting assistant to an area scout of six states, but his career path started his junior year at Gettysburg. A campus career adviser recommended Fargnoli check out teamworkonline.com, a website that lists thousands of open jobs and internships in sports. He did, applied to an internship with the Kansas City Chiefs, and spent that summer sampling jobs in various departments including marketing and ticket sales. The following summer, he interned with the scouting department. After graduation, the Chiefs recommended him for a full-time role with the Reese's Senior Bowl in Alabama. A year later, he joined the Atlanta Falcons as a scouting assistant, an office role where he found himself applying much of what he learned from his organization and management studies.
“I learned so much about improving organizational culture and office dynamics from my major, which prepared me for the first two years of my career,” said Fargnoli.
The organization and management studies major explores organizations, how they behave within the context of societal issues, how people in those organizations behave, and how those organizations are managed. Students gain a strong foundation in organization theory and behavior, statistics, research methods, and systems thinking. The major is anchored in the social sciences and reaffirms the central role of the liberal arts in studies of organizations and management.
For those who might want to replicate Fargnoli’s career path, he recommended playing on a college team or getting as involved with one as possible, whether it’s in the recruiting department, as a coaching assistant, or in equipment.
“As a Bullet, I got hands-on experience in the locker room and on the field learning the game and about player dynamics,” he said. “There’s no better preparation for what I do. And, of course, get that resume built with internships!”
Fargnoli also cautions sports enthusiasts to consider whether football, or any other sport, equals life for them.
“You learn quickly in this business that if you’re in it just because you like sports, that's going to go away quickly,” he said. “You can’t just be in love with game days and the lights, grinding Monday through Saturday to get to Sunday. You have to really have a passion for it and be willing to do the day-to-day grind stuff that is never going to get televised.”
Fortunately, Fargnoli does love it. He sees himself with the NFL for the duration of his career and hopes to continue rising in the ranks of the Falcons scouting department. For now, he’s focused on “finding quality players that fit within our culture and bring us closer to winning a championship.”
By Katelyn Silva
Photos courtesy of Dante Fargnoli ’18 and the Atlanta Falcons