High school football alum Michael McCarthy is taking his playing career overseas next year.

McCarthy, who graduated in 2009 and went on to four years as starting quarterback for Bridgewater State University, recently signed a contract with the Geneva Seahawks, one of 13 teams in Switzerland’s Non-Professional Swiss Romand Americain Football League (NSFL). Despite the league’s name, McCarthy’s contract is a professional one. In addition to playing quarterback for the Seahawks’ tackle football program, he will be a coach for the flag football program.

“I always wanted to travel after I was done with college, and this gave me a great opportunity to travel Europe and play the game I love,” McCarthy said in an interview last week.

As a Vineyard football player, McCarthy started at quarterback as a sophomore and led the team to a Super Bowl in 2008. He still holds five school records. At Bridgewater State, McCarthy earned the starting quarterback job as a freshman, and started 41 straight games. He became the second Bears quarterback to throw for 2,000 yards in a season, and holds the university’s career record for passing yards.

McCarthy worked at Bridgewater State as quarterbacks coach this year, and said that coaching is a long-term goal. He is also student teaching at Brockton High School.

He leaves for training camp in Switzerland in February. The first game of the 10-game season is March 7.

McCarthy told the Gazette he had been in contact with teams from Italy, France, Germany, Denmark and Poland, but ultimately opted for Geneva because he felt the potential for success was there.

“The team had a lot of young talent, and seemed to be a dedicated group,” he said. The Seahawks’ coach, Kirk Mastromatteo, is a fellow American with division one coaching experience — another important factor for McCarthy.

A 2012 New York Times article about Swiss football notes that there are clubs in every major city, and that while the sport still isn’t as popular as soccer, it nevertheless has a strong fan base.

“There are leagues all throughout Europe,” McCarthy said. “I was surprised to learn how many leagues and good competition is over there.”

Teams are only allowed to have a certain number of American imports, and most of McCarthy’s teammates will be Swiss, with some from other European countries. McCarthy said he was told 90 per cent of the team understands English.

“The football is played in English, so that will be the same,” he said. “But I want to be able to communicate with all of the players.” He plans to study French before leaving.

McCarthy traveled to Ireland for an eighth grade class trip, but has not been out of the country since then. Still, he said that he is looking forward to the new experience.

“I have had so many people from both Bridgewater and the Vineyard reach out to me and congratulate me,” McCarthy said. “It really is helping me take in this transition, and motivating me to go over to Geneva and succeed.”