Players Coach International Students in American Football
Posted April 19, 2013 | Atlanta, GA
Students from around the world gathered in Bobby Dodd Stadium Thursday afternoon to learn about football from Tech’s experts at the Institute’s first International Football Clinic.
Georgia Tech Football hosted dozens of international students eager to learn the rules of football. It was a hands-on crash course at Bobby Dodd Stadium where Yellow Jackets from across the globe perfected passing and lined up to attempt a field goal kick.
The event was designed to teach international students, who make up about 20 percent of Tech’s student population, the game and customs of American football.
“We felt like even though international students are included, they didn’t necessarily feel like they were a part of the football experience,” said Kris Surapaneni, co-chair of the Athletic and Recreational Services Committee for the undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA).
Head Football Coach Paul Johnson gave a 20-minute overview of various elements of gameplay, such as positions, scoring, equipment, terminology and field layout, before answering questions from participants. The students, who represented at least 20 countries, then toured the equipment and locker rooms and were led onto Grant Field behind the Ramblin’ Wreck, just as the team is at each home game.
After an hour of training with the football team, students relaxed and socialized over barbecue at a tailgate hosted by the Ramblin’ Reck Club, where players autographed team photos given to each student.
“I would watch it on television before but not really understand it,” said Zoey Zhang, a graduate student from Singapore who attended the clinic. “I was thinking it was a very physically strong game, but actually it’s a very smart game.”
Players and the coaching staff were able to share their love of the sport and connect with the international students.
“It’s great any time our players have the chance to interact with the student body, and it gives them an idea what we’re really all about,” Johnson said. “A big part of your college experience is athletics and going to the events. Hopefully now they can understand it a little better and they’ll come and have a little better time.”
The idea for the clinic, spearheaded by SGA, was borrowed from Rice University. Surapaneni and Ahsan Khan, also co-chair of SGA’s athletic and recreational services committee, spent about eight months planning and anticipating the Tech event.
“We expected people to have a good time, but everyone left laughing, smiling and already talking about doing it again,” said Khan. “I think the enthusiasm from the players and Coach Johnson made a lasting impression on the students.”
Surapaneni and Khan hope to grow the event in the future, potentially tying it into orientation for international students.