Several members of Temple’s football team and faculty members spent more than a week in Japan in an effort to help Japanese universities develop an intercollegiate sports system like in the United States.
Coach Geoff Collins, a few staff members and eight players departed Philadelphia for Japan on May 11 and returned on Sunday. The Owls led clinics at Hosei University, the University of Tokyo and Kansai University to teach players the fundamentals of the game. The group was hosted by Temple University Japan and the Dome Corporation, which is Under Armour’s Japanese distributor.
Unlike many collegiate athletes in the United States, Japanese student-athletes pay to play their sports in addition to their tuition money and don’t typically have meal plans, redshirt-senior defensive lineman Michael Dogbe said.
During the trip, Dogbe, Collins, redshirt-senior quarterback Frank Nutile and School of Tourism, and Hospitality Management Associate Dean Jeremy Jordan were on a panel with two Japanese players and the University of Tokyo’s coach. Temple’s players talked about their experiences as a student-athlete in the United States and learned about those of the Japanese players.
“I think what the hope is is that they can have their own NCAA and you know start that up and really make collegiate sports go to the next level,” Dogbe said. “They want their student-athletes to feel like they can come into college and be successful in every way possible, whether that be with tutors, having a meal plan and getting bigger and stuff like that. They were really happy to get our input on all that.”
Jordan and STHM professor Daniel Funk have been researching ways to reform sports in Japan. In August, they hosted NCAA President Mark Emmert while Emmert visited Tokyo to meet with university presidents and government officials.
“One of the things we’re trying to establish is the differences that exist in terms of the student-athlete experience, whether it be the type of academic support or sport medicine or some of the other strength and conditioning resources that they have,” Jordan said.
The Japan trip marked the second consecutive year Funk traveled with one of Temple’s Division I sports teams. Last year, he taught the Sport Tourism in Western Europe course during the women’s basketball team’s preseason trip to Paris and Rome.
During the most recent trip, Funk taught Sport, Tourism and Culture, in which players had to write a pre-trip essay on their expectations of the trip, keep a daily journal and write a post-trip assessment.
Each of the eight players — Nutile, Dogbe, junior wide receiver Isaiah Wright, redshirt-senior offensive lineman Jaelin Robinson, junior linebacker Shaun Bradley, junior cornerback Linwood Crump, redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Matt Hennessy and redshirt-sophomore defensive lineman Dan Archibong — had one of their daily recaps posted on OwlSports.com.
Funk enjoyed reading the players’ thoughts about their first trips to Japan.
“I’ve experienced [it] before, but then I got to read it and see through their eyes,” Funk said. “So it was really I think powerful in terms of kind of enjoying the experience with them.”
Now that the trip is over, the players have to submit a post-trip essay to Funk this week about how the trip was different than what they had expected.
The stint in Japan included a visit to the U.S. Embassy, trips to temples and watching a sumo wrestling tournament and Yomiuri Giants baseball game. The group from Temple spent time in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. They also visited the Tokyo Sky Tree, which is the tallest freestanding tower in the world at 2,080 feet.
Archibong said the players had free time on most nights to hang out with each other.
“I already was really fond of these guys,” Hennessy said. “They’re all great guys, but learning even more about them…it brought us together even more, I would say.”
“After nine days spending time together, there were no cliques,” Collins said. “The guys just kept mingling in and out with all the different groups of guys. They were really close interacting with us. I think they got to see me in a different light and some of the other coaches and staff in a different light. We had we had an absolute blast.”