Samuel Maday was one of 27 Puget Sound football student-athletes traveling to China (May 15-23), where the Loggers learned the culture, led youth football clinics, and competed against the Shanghai Titans (2017 American Football Leage of China Champions). Maday details what happened before, during, and after the Loggers' win agains the Shanghai Titans.
During this trip we've seen some of the most amazing things we will ever see in our lives. From the Great Wall to the Forbidden City, we've seen things we will never forget. We came to China for two reasons: cultural education, and to help show how American Football should be played. This is how I saw the game, even though I didn't play.
This was a new experience for everyone, including the Chinese team. When we got to the field there was a huge banner that read Shanghai Titans vs. Puget Sound Loggers. I can honestly say that it didn't occur to me how big a moment this was until Dwight Jackson went out for the coin toss. Up until, that point it seemed like any other game. We listened to the same few songs running through as we warmed up. The warm up went as usual, with the other team warming up across from us. Then we broke and got ready for the coin toss, and I realized something: there was a lot more people than I thought there would be, probably over 1,000. They were starting to get lined up along both sidelines. There was a real buzz, a lot of excitement in the air. This surprised me. Most of the guys on our team have played football for longer than the sport has been in China, yet there were all these people here to watch. It was at that moment I realized we were part of something truly historic.
I won't lie to you, the minutes leading up to the game were some of the hardest I've experienced at this school. I knew I wouldn't get to play, though I desperately wanted to be on the field. However, the excitement in the crowd, and from both teams, got me excited for the game. We were becoming the first college team to ever play a game in China. Our team of 27 guys was about to play the best team in China. We were hyped to play the game we all love. There was a real buzz on the sidelines, we had high expectations to not just win, but to dominate. After we won the coin toss, about five minutes before the game started, more and more people began to show up. The stadium was packed as our offense took the field.
Our offense went up and down the field all day, amassing over 300 rushing yards and putting up 84 points. They put on a show, and had a blast doing it. With everybody playing both ways, and only having one actual lineman, I wasn't sure what to expect. However the line did a phenomenal job opening holes and giving the quarterbacks time to throw. The strangest thing to me about this was every time we got a big play or scored a touchdown, the fans went crazy. Here we are in China, playing their best team, and yet the fans are cheering us on.
Then it occurred to me, they have never had the opportunity to see what real American football looks like. They were shocked at how successful and efficient we were on the field, how we all knew exactly what our assignment was, and how we accomplished what we were supposed to do each play.
The biggest cheer came for a play that didn't count, a 55-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Diebold. This is something that we as players see all the time and was no big deal to us, but the fans were amazed by the play. Later in the game, fans were still talking to me about that play. While we came here to win, and succeeded in doing so, I believe we truly helped show the fans what football looks like. Hopefully it will allow the sport to continue to grow in China.
Defensively we came out and played very well, amassing eight sacks and nine interceptions. Our sideline was buzzing about which offensive player would make the next play, while I was excited for my brothers on defense who were playing their actual positions. The fans, as well as us players, had a great time during the game. Most of the fans stayed for the whole game, despite the lopsided score.
I said earlier we came to expand the brand of American Football, and I believe we did that. There were multiple times during the game where players from our team helped the players from the Titans work on different techniques. We wanted to help them improve as much as possible. We wanted to show the people of China why they should continue to pursue football.
After the game, the teams came together for a picture and to exchange gifts. It honestly felt like we were all a big family, brought together by football. The atmosphere was the same as it was when the game started, electric. Everybody was excited for what had just happened, and for the future of football in China. We accomplished all three of our goals for the trip, win the game, be ambassadors for the great game we love playing, and have a great time visiting a country most thought we'd never see. This trip was an unforgettable experience, and I hope the university continues this international adventure. Everyone deserves this experience. Roll Logs!