July 21, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind – The players and coaches of the Notre Dame Football Legends returned to the practice field on Tuesday – but this time 6,400 miles from the more familiar surroundings of the University of Notre Dame campus.
The Legends left Chicago O’Hare airport on Sunday morning and due to the combination of a 13-hour flight, crossing the International Date Line and 13-hour time difference from the US east coast, arrived at Tokyo Narita Monday afternoon.
Following five practices at LaBar Field last week, the team relocated to Nihon University in Tokyo where a rainy Tuesday failed to dampen their enthusiasm as they continued preparations for the Notre Dame Japan Bowl. The 58-man roster led by head coach LOU HOLTZ will take on the Japanese senior national team in the Tokyo Dome on Saturday, July 25 at 4pm local time (3am US ET).
“It has been 20 years since I wore the gold helmet of Notre Dame, so it feels good to be wearing it again,” said quarterback TONY RICE from Nihon University. “I love to compete at everything I do, so to be here to play football in Japan is a fantastic experience.”
The practice marked the final time the team will hit the fields in pads and have full contact until Saturday’s game against Japan. The Legends linebacker corps, led by former Fighting Irish captains MICHAEL GOOLSBY and BRANDON HOYTE looked impressive.
“I’m playing one of the greatest games ever and am representing Notre Dame and am on the other side of the world, which really is a blessing,” said Hoyte. “We’re excited to play in the game and have a lot of respect for the Japanese team.
Injury report… In the space of three plays, running back RAY ZELLARS and quarterback GARY GODSEY went down with muscle strains. Earlier, full back COLE LAUX needed stitches in a cut to his chin. The rushing trio is expected to recover in time to play against Japan.
In the spotlight… There was plenty of media interest in the Notre Dame Football Legends at the team’s first practice on Japanese soil. Coach LOU HOLTZ, quarterback TONY RICE and running back RAY ZELLARS were interviewed by TV broadcasters NHK and NTV, while reporters were also present from the Japan Times and talked to coach CHRIS ZORICH, linebacker BRANDON HOYTE and defensive back JOE RESTIC.
A Japanese guest… watching practice from the sidelines was TAKAYUKI SUNAGA, the offensive coordinator of the Japanese junior national team program. Japan’s junior team, aged 19 and under, took the Bronze Medal at the IFAF (International Federation of American Football) Junior World Championship of American Football in Canton, Ohio on July 4, beating Mexico 42-27. Sunaga has the distinction of being the first-ever non-American quarterback to take a snap in NFL Europe when he lined up for the Scottish Claymores against the Berlin Thunder in 2000.
Solar eclipse… if there is a wayward pass or a dropped catch when the Notre Dame Football Legends practice at Nihon University on Wednesday, the guilty parties will have a valid excuse. While the team is on the practice field Japan will experience a Total Solar Eclipse. The anticipated 6-minute 39-second eclipse will be the longest and last such occurrence in the 21st century. The best viewing and 100 percent eclipse will occur in Yakushima, the Tokara Islands and Amami Oshimao the southwest, while Tokyo will experience a 70 percent eclipse at 11.13am.
Welcome to Japan… Notre Dame graduate JAMES MOYNIHAN (’73), formerly an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Japan, briefed the team at a welcome reception on Monday evening, advising them on which cultural places of interest to visit and how best to enjoy their stay. BILL MORAN of the Notre Dame Club of Japan also welcomed the group. Japanese event organizer SHINZO YAMADA outlined details of the week ahead and his army of volunteers and the hotel staff have already made the Notre Dame visitors feel very welcome.
Putting on the Ritz… the five-star Ritz Carlton Hotel in Tokyo Midtown is home to the team and is a beautiful setting for the 100-strong traveling party. Having rested after a long flight, the group ate breakfast on the first morning in the hotel’s 45th floor restaurant, which offers a spectacular panoramic view of the city.
The recovery process… the team was given a presentation before the first practice at Nihon University by one of the event sponsors DR. YOSHIO SUZUKI, whose WGHPro (Wheat Gluten Hydrolysate) supplement is available to the players to aid their recovery from the physical demands of practice. WGHPro assists the digestion, the immune system and mitigates the inflammation of muscles. The team will have access to WGHPro throughout the week of the Notre Dame Japan Bowl.
Notre Dame Football Legends Team Schedule For Wednesday, July 22
8:00 am Bus to Nihon University 9:00 am Team Meeting 10:45 am Practice @ Nihon University (NU) 12:45 pm Practice Ends 1:15-2:15 pm Lunch 2:30 pm Bus to City Tour/Asakusa Temples Tour 6:00 pm Bus to Dinner @ T.Y. Harbor
CBS College Sports Network, the original 24-hour sports network, will broadcast the Notre Dame Japan Bowl to a nationwide audience in the United States on Monday, August 10 (9:00 PM, ET; taped 7/25/09) as part of the Network’s “Countdown to Kickoff Week” programming.
For more information on the Notre Dame Japan Bowl 2009 and the Notre Dame Football Legends, visit www.NDJapanBowl.com. The full roster is also available at that website