Red Wolves under the radar and across the world: James Williams and Kuwait Gridiron

(from left) Josh Bramlett, James Williams, Micah Christensen

(from left) Josh Bramlett, James Williams, Micah Christensen

A group of students from the College of Media and Communications recently traveled to Kuwait on a university-sponsored trip to study the print and broadcast media institutions in the country. While over there, our group was contacted by a former Red Wolf who is doing great things in Kuwait. We met up with him and talked about his job and experiences in the Middle East.

James Williams is a 2012 Arkansas State graduate and former offensive lineman for the football team who is now the head coach for the U-19 Kuwait Gridiron National Football team in Kuwait City, Kuwait. For the past five months James has lived in the country and helped build the U-19 football program at the grassroots level.

Coaching:

Day-to-day operations involve strength and conditioning, planning practices, and developing assistant coaches, among other things. About seventy Kuwaiti teenagers have registered with the program. Players on the team range from 9-18 years old. They practice in the evenings for an hour to an hour and a half and practices vary from pool water workouts to weight room sessions to on-the-field practices. During Ramadan, when players were fasting during the day, they had evening workouts at the pool.

There are some unique obstacles that James has to face such as the language barrier. While many players can speak basic English several words and nuances from football jargon simply do not translate. However, many players have followed the game in some aspect for a number of years. They see football on television and in movies and some wear the jerseys of their favorite NFL players. James’ experience as a player in NCAA Division 1 college football gives these young guys an opportunity to learn about organized football. The people who sign up for the team are curious about football and want to learn about the sport. It’s not only a unique opportunity for James but a unique opportunity for the teenagers to learn about a sport that is not widespread in their country.

Still, American football is spreading in Kuwait and across the globe. According to James, “It is amazing how this sport is growing so rapidly and has transcended national barriers. The sport is bringing together people from so many different backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions. We all immediately find common ground, joining together on the gridiron. The values the sport represents such as teamwork, sportsmanship, discipline, and overcoming adversity are relevant in every nation and these lessons last long after the final whistle, as young men hold on to these experiences and value the lessons learned as they grow and excel through their lives.”

In his role he is more than just a coach. He is a global ambassador for the game of football. “I’m really thankful for the opportunity to come and contribute to the development of the sport here.” There are about seventy countries throughout the world that play American football. Next year, Kuwait actually hosts the 2014 U19 World Championship for the International Federation of American Football. This championship will gather 8 teams from around the world to compete next July. The previous tournament was in Austin Texas, and James says that this will be a big moment “for the growth of the game, not only in the Middle East, but for the whole world.”

National team

There are three branches of the national team: flag, U-19, and senior. The senior team is coached by Paul Williams, no relation to James, who has been in Kuwait for almost 2 years. The Senior team recently played their first ever game in Kuwait against the Jeddah Jaws of Saudi Arabia. They will compete against the Korean national team in Seoul in April of 2014.

The national flag football team recently played in the European World Flag championships in Gothenburg Sweden. The tournament had twelve nations in attendance.

The U-19 squad led by James has not played yet but should play in two or three matches before next summer’s world championships hosted in Kuwait.

Life in the Middle East

James has adapted to life in Kuwait and Middle Eastern culture. “I definitely experienced culture shock when I arrived. Learning my way around and communicating around town was difficult in the beginning. There are many languages spoken here and people from across the planet. I once dreamed of traveling extensively and living abroad and now every day is a unique cultural immersion experience. The Middle East is a dynamic place and I am learning so many new things everyday like Arabic.”

While he’s across the globe, he’s still representing the Red Wolves. He says “ASU was a great time. I met a lot of great people, some really awesome professors, and I got to play for Coach Hugh Freeze. He really inspired our team to do big things with our life. That experience, I really hold close to my heart.”

James Williams

James Williams

For current Red Wolves athletes, James offers some candid advice: “Give your all in the classroom just like you do on the field.”

Excerpts from the interview are in this video:

You can stay up to date on team by following them:

Twitter

Facebook

YouTube

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Red Wolves’ Quidditch: From Fiction to Reality

Quidditch is a fictional game portrayed in the Harry Potter series of books. The first mention came in J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Several Arkansas State students sought to turn what was portrayed in Rowling’s book into a reality here on campus, and their efforts earned them a place as a developing club sport this semester. 

Speaking with Junior Team Captain Taylor Machen, I had a chance to gather a little insight on how Machen and the rest of the Quidditch club developed a fictional game into a sport that several colleges throughout the United States participate in. 

Machen explained that a lot of the rules that were changed from the books were due to human error.

The largest change is that of the “snitch.” In the Harry Potter series the snitch is a small golden ball that is enchanted to hover, dart, and fly around the pitch, avoiding capture while remaining within the boundaries of the playing area. Each team has a designated seeker and that person alone is in charge of capturing the snitch. The snitch as described in the books is worth 150 points and is effectively the only thing that can end a game. 

“The snitch in Muggle Quidditch is only worth thirty points instead of the normal 150” said Machen. “This is because the snitch runner gets tired instead of being an object that never fatigues.”

The human snitch in Muggle Quidditch also has the ability to interact with players.

“The snitch can throw players around, can tackle them or do whatever they want really” said Machen. 

Since humans lack the ability to fly, players are limited to running on the ground. To maintain the game’s “realism” players ride around on brooms. While there are shops online in which brooms for Muggle Quidditch can be purchased, players choose to “ride” PVC pipe instead due to it being much cheaper than the brooms. 

One last rule that was changed is tackling. Tackling players is something that was not seen often in the books, but is a rule adapted to inhibit the player with the quaffle from advancing into scoring position. 

“The only other way to really stop them is by hitting them with a bludger, which is our dodge balls we use” said Machen. 

The beater position, players that deal primarily with the bludger, carry small bats with them in the books to hit the bludger at opponents. Due to gravity, the bats are unneeded and players simply throw the bludger at opposing players. 

The Arkansas State Quidditch team practices Thursdays from 5-6 PM in the field behind the village, and spectators as well as people interested in playing are urged to attend. 

(Video Courtesy of http://www.youtube.com/user/RedwolfQuidditch)     

-Useful Links- 

ASU Quidditch Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ArkansasStateUniversityQuidditchTeam

Arkansas State Quidditch YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/RedwolfQuidditch

Harry Potter Quidditch Wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quidditch

Muggle Quidditch Wiki – http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Muggle_Quidditch

Wiki How on Muggle Quidditch – http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Muggle-Quidditch

International Quidditch Association – http://iqaquidditch.com

 

Table Tennis for Freshman

When you think about sports you tend to think about football and basketball. The crowd thats on the edge of their seat waiting for the first basket or touchdown. Intramural sports no Arkansas State’s campus has been the most entertaining and often times very physical. But, when it come to table tennis it can be relaxing for some.

IMG_1386

Table Tennis is a recreational sport played in community centers, gyms, sporting events and even home. Freshman Dylan Milligan of Batesville, Arkansas says “I have played table recreationally for the last eight years. I enjoy playing the sport because, because it’s very chill and relaxes me.”

 

Table tennis is a sport that is also commonly known as “ping pong”. Table tennis is a low impact sport that consist of two light light weight paddles with either wood or rubber edges played on a 5 by 9 indoor tennis table and ball. The game is consisted of two players and each player scores with opponent either missed hitting the ball or hits out if bounds or off the table. Table tennis is more than just a game of hitting the ball back and forth. There various ways and techniques of stroking the ball or hitting it.

Techniques/ Strokes

1. The Drive- a low topspin hit of the ball either backhand or forehand hit. This is a hit that allows the opponent to second guess which way the ball is going to go.

2. The Push- the basic backspin shots that c change the pace of an exchange or to return certain low and close shots.

3. The Block-  allows a player to use the opponent’s force against them,  done immediately after the bounce.

4. The Smash- When the ball is hit at the highest potential during the game. A smash can however be hard to retain or hit back from

http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Table-Tennis

Table Tennis History – Robbins Table Tennis

http://www.megaspin.net/info/strokes.asp

ASU Women’s Bowling

I went last Thursday and met the head coach of ASU women’s bowling team and asked him some questions about the team and his experience with the team. I shot the below video of the team while the players while training. This video contains a lot of interesting information about the team so I hope you enjoy watching it.

 

Why are they always training outside the campus?

UITXDSMUXGIUVLO.20130911233656

At first , I will introduction the ASU women tennis head coach, Her name is  Marina Engelbrecht. She just completed her second season as A-State’s head coach.  The Red Wolves went 5-11 in 2013 and suffered a narrow defeat to MTSU in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament by a score of 4-3. Sophomore Tamara Slijepcevic was named to the All-Sun Belt Second Team for singles play and A-State won the conference’s academic award.

During coach Engelbrecht’s first season in 2012, the Red Wolves attained an 11-9 record.  A-State freshman Tamara Slijepcevic was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference Team under Engelbrecht’s watch.

Engelbrecht was a part of three ASU teams that recorded double-figure victories over the last five seasons, including a 10-7 record while advancing to the second round of the Sun Belt Conference Championships in 2011.  During her time as an assistant coach, the Red Wolves had three players named All-Sun Belt Conference, including freshman Biljana Miloshevska last season.

Also during Engelbrecht’s tenure as an assistant coach with the Red Wolves, the tennis program continued its academic success as well. The Red Wolves have been selected as an ITA All-Academic Team each year since 1999 and has historically almost always been at 100 percent for the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.

Prior to serving as an assistant coach, Engelbrecht was one of the most decorated and successful players at No. 1 singles for Arkansas State for three seasons after playing No. 2 her freshman year.  At No. 1, Engelbrecht posted an overall mark of 37-9. A two-time All-Sun Belt Conference performer, she was also successful as one-half of ASU’s No. 1 doubles pair throughout her career.

The Bloemfontein, South Africa native graduated from ASU in 2006 with a degree in exercise science and received her master’s degree in exercise science in August 2008. While a student, she was a member of the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll every semester and was also a four-time member of the ITA All-Academic team and Scholar-Athlete list.

During the spring of 2006, Engelbrecht received the prestigious Terry Gwin Award, one of the two highest awards an ASU student-athlete may receive.

In addition to her responsibilities as an assistant coach, she was also the Coordinator of Wellness Programs at the newly opened Red W.O.L.F. Center the last three years and served as a part-time instructor at Arkansas State University the last five.  Engelbrecht taught Health Promotion II for Exercise Science majors and several sections of Concepts of Fitness, Fitness Walking, Tennis and Badminton.

And here have a video about her interview, I ask her the question about history for ASU women tennis team in last year, and the future plan for the new season, also ask her the reason about why they always training in the outside the campus, because in the campus, we have a place for people play tennis.

The main reason about them are not in the campus training and choose to use outside tennis field training because the campus tennis field  has not yet been completed, there are still some problems on the ground, similar to the uneven, with concave and convex, and so on.

Here have some picture show about ASU campus tennis field:

IMG_5865

IMG_5857

IMG_5863 IMG_5859

More information about ASU women tennis:

Rules of tennis

The best game of tennis ever?

Life of a manager

Whenever you think of a team you think of the players, coaches, etc., but you don’t normally think of the people who get everything ready for that team; the managers.  These people are a part of the team, although most people don’t think of them that way, but they are there in the locker rooms and interact with all the players on a daily basis.  Katherine James is a manager of the volleyball and I managed to talk with her to see what it is like for her to be a manager.

1. Give a little bit of detail on what you do for the team.-

I basically do whatever the coaches tell me to do. For the most part, I organize the girls’ things, pack their bags for away games and lay out everything they need when they play at home.

2. What is it that made you want to be a manager?-

I wanted to be the manager because I still wanted to be close to the game even if I couldn’t play anymore. I turned down offers to play because I knew volleyball would be more like a job in college, and I wanted to focus more on my studies. The transition wasn’t very easy, so when I found out the team needed a manager, I jumped on the opportunity.

3. How hard can it be for a student to be a manager?-

Being a manager and a student isn’t as hard as being a student athlete, but it is still very demanding. I set aside time in my day almost every day to fulfill my duties, but through all of it, I’ve gained more of a respect for the players because it’s extremely time and energy consuming for them.

4. You played volleyball in high school. Does being a manager help you be closer to the game?-

I did play volleyball in high school, so I actually feel further from the game now than I ever have. However, I’m closer to it than I would be if I weren’t the manager, so I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to be involved with the team.

5. What is your favorite part/s of being a manager?-

My favorite part about being the manager is being in a position to meet amazing, hard-working athletes and coaches who have a passion for the sport that I love. The connections and relationships that I have formed are priceless. Oh–and front row seats to the game are always a perk, too!

6. You’re there for a lot of team activities what are like behind the scenes of being the manager for the team?-

Being behind the scenes gives me a whole new perspective. Now, the players and coaches aren’t just people–they’re friends. Moreover, I’ve come to realize how much work has to go into the program to make it function. Before, I didn’t realize how much work was behind the program. Things like advertising, setting up facilities, recruiting, watching film, travel arrangements–it is almost overwhelming sometimes to see the work behind the program.

7. Do you feel as a part of the team as you would as a player?-

It’s definitely not the same as being a player, but I do feel like I’m a part of the team–just in a different way. It took some adjusting to, at first, because I didn’t know the sport or institution of a team outside of being a player, but I’ve finally become accustom to my place and role on the team.

8. Does being a manager make you miss the game more? You go to the games and watch everyone practice, warm up, play, etc. but you aren’t the one playing. How does that make you feel about the game?-

Being a manager definitely makes me miss playing. It’s like I’m so close but so far away, at the same time. Some days, it does make me regret not continuing to play, but all good things must come to an end. I still love the game, though, and I always will.

9. What is it that makes you like volleyball so much?-

Volleyball has always been my thing. I just love the rush. I used to be a libero/defensive specialist, and the best feeling in the world was anticipating an attack, moving into position, and making a great dig. The energy in the room when the fans erupt is indescribable–especially when you’re taking it all in from the court.

The volleyball team only has four games left in the regular season before the sunbelt conference tournament begins.  You can see them play their final home game Sunday November 17 against Texas State.

 http://www.astateredwolves.com/SportSelect.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=7200&SPID=2743&SPSID=35048

http://www.sunbeltsports.org/SPORTS/WomensSports/WVolleyball.aspx