the summer, Rice sophomore guard Tayler Bennett got the opportunity of a
lifetime by studying abroad in Brazil. RiceOwls.com sat down with Bennett to
discuss that opportunity and what it meant to her.
Q: How did the process of getting to go to Brazil develop?
my initial visit, Coach Langley got the professor from the art history
department to come and meet with me. He told me they had been to Rome that
summer and they do study abroad trips. I thought that was so cool. So, when I
got to Rice and took my first art history class I was very interested about the
process. I needed to find out when the application was due. At the first
meeting we needed to write a letter about why we wanted to study abroad and how
the trip would benefit my education at Rice. I wrote a letter hoping to get
selected. I had so many people look it over after I was done because I wanted
it to be perfect! I was super lucky to have been chosen and get the opportunity
because only 10 people were selected."
Q: What were some of the highlights of the trip?
Tayler: "We went to three cities over the course of
the trip and the longest amount of time we stayed in any spot was in Rio. We
were there about two weeks and also visited Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, and São Paulo. Rio was amazing, we were visiting the
downtown areas and the Christ the Redeemer statue. We stayed in the Ipanema
area, which is where the beautiful beaches are. We visited a lot of churches and
cathedrals and buildings that were created by well-known Brazilian architects.
I was very enthused and interested about learning as much as possible."
Q: Did you ever
imagine getting to do something like this?
It's crazy to think at the age of 18 I got to do something so unimaginable.
It's something I always wanted to do but thought it probably wouldn't get to
happen until later in life. For Rice to give me the opportunity to go when the
only thing I had to pay for was food, it's just hard to fathom. I was so appreciative."
What type of impact would you say this journey had on you?
culture there had a great impact on me. Everyone was very welcoming. I wasn't
really a people person coming into Rice and I can definitely say that changed
after this trip. I've become more of an open and inviting person. I'd like to
keep making those positive changes. Also, it made me just a more happy person.
Everyone there was genuinely happy with what they were doing and you could
always feel that. A lot of people had warned me about Brazil, especially after
the Olympics, but we didn't encounter anything close to that. We felt extremely
safe. It made me realize that we shouldn't always absorb the news we hear because
we have no idea what's taking place in those countries."
The Rice Owls saw their hopes for a memorable debut on an
international stage end early as the 14th ranked Stanford Cardinal rolled to a
62-7 win in the second annual Sydney Cup at Allianz Stadium in Sydney,
Junior running back Samuel
Stewart led the Owls with 71 yards rushing and added a career-high 41 yards
on three receptions while senior co-captain Emmanuel
Ellerbee recorded his eighth double digit tackle game in his last 12 games
to lead the Owls.
"We're a good team, but we didn't play like it today," Rice
head coach David
Bailiff said. "It's one of those things that as a coach you will go back
and look at the film and analyze it and try to see what we can do better, what
we can do different and what we need to get away from."
Playing on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the Southern
Hemisphere while friends and family endured a turbulent Saturday night in
Houston as the remnants of Hurricane Harvey unleashed torrential rains and tornados,
the Owls saw their hopes for a quick start quashed as the Cardinal struck for a
score in the first minute of the game.
Rice was unable to answer that initial score after they were
pinned inside their own 10-yard line after a short return of the kickoff and a
pair of penalties eventually setting up the Cardinal on a short field, which
they quickly converted to double their advantage.
"When you play a team like Stanford, or any elite football
team, you have to be the best team," Bailiff noted. "You can't make mistakes --
where you have two illegal procedure penalties that get you down in the hole
immediately. We made some poor decisions early that got us in a hole."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam
Glaesmann completed seven of 18 passes for 69 yards in his collegiate debut
and led the Owls on their lone scoring drive of the night early in the fourth
quarter, which was capped by a 23-yard run by junior Austin
Walter for the Owls first points outside the United States. Glaesmann's
lone interception came on his final play of the day when the ball slipped from
his hand into those of Stanford's Jovan Swann.
"I was pleased with how our young quarterback played,"
Bailiff said. "The ball came out of his hand, and we've got to get that fixed,
but I thought from managing the game he was good at his play. A lot of the
things that went wrong were because of the things that were around him."
While he acknowledged that the specter of the ongoing
developments at home were never far from the minds of his players and staff,
Bailiff also refused to use it as a major factor in the outcome of the game.
"You try to tell them to let me worry about that (Hurricane
Harvey) and let them just play football," Bailiff stated. "I think we did the
best that we could with what is going on back home. We're not going to use that
as an excuse."
The Owls are slated to depart on Monday morning (Sydney
time), with the first leg of their trip taking them to Los Angeles. Their
remaining travel plans will be determined once the team arrives in California.
Rice does not play again until September 9 when they travel to El Paso to take
Despite the outcome of the game, Bailiff said the
experiences of the past week will be one his team and staff will long remember.
"What an incredible experience for our football team,"
Bailiff said. "The Australian people are a one-of-a-kind people. They are very
friendly, humble, outgoing, and anything we needed, they helped us out. I
appreciate the hospitality of the Australian people a lot.
"The game obviously isn't a great memory, but the tour of the
harbor, some of the sites and sounds and the cultural exchange with the
University of Sydney is one that these guys, 10, 20 30 years from now will
always reflect back to."
From all of us here in Sydney, we are hoping for the
continued safety of all of our family, friends and fellow Owls on the Rice
campus through this weekend and coming days. We have all been monitoring the continuing
evolution of Hurricane Harvey, which is now a tropical storm. This morning Australian national television news
shows were reporting on the storm, so the storm is widely known by Aussies we
run into. They have been great hosts to us, and their sympathetic words have
meant a lot.
The Owls completed their prep Saturday. The program will
open its 106th season as the "home" team here in Sydney when they
face Stanford at noon Sunday (Saturday at 9 p.m. CDT U.S.). The game will be
televised nationally in the United States on ESPN. For the first time, the
players visited the venue where the game will be played, Allianz Stadium, and
took to the turf to get acquainted and participate in a team walkthrough. There
were no other scheduled public team events.
We have had very good weather in Sydney all week. It has
been sunny with the highs in the low 60s. That could change tomorrow, as
forecasters are calling for a 70 percent chance of rain; however, right now it
looks like the rain might hold off until the end of the game.
Saturday night Rice Owls alumni, donors and fans gathered on
the 32nd floor of the InterContinental Sydney hotel's Supper Club bar, where
they socialized and took in some breathtaking views high above the Sydney
Harbour and the city.
Rice versus Stanford
This is the sixth meeting between Rice and Stanford. Rice
leads the all-time series 3-2, thanks to wins in the first three games (34-7 in
Houston in 1957; 30-7 at Stanford in 1958 and 17-7 at Rice Stadium in 1963). The
Cardinal won 34-7 at home in 1964 and 41-17 last season in Stanford.
Rice did not face Stanford for 52 years, but
will be facing them in consecutive games after closing the 2016 season with a
loss at Stanford. This will mark the third time in school history the Owls have
opened a season against the same team they had played in the final game of the
previous year. Rice and Houston closed the 1982 campaign and then kicked off
the 1983 season. The two schools duplicated it again in 2005-2006.
Coach David Bailiff announced within the past two weeks that
redshirt freshman Sam Glaesmann will make the start as quarterback against
Stanford. He will become the first redshirt freshman to start an opener for the
Owls since Taylor McHargue opened the 2010 season versus Texas at Reliant
Stadium. He said recently that you have to "find a moment or two to step back and soak it all in."
Who is back for the Owls?
Rice returns a total of 13 players who made the majority of
the starts from last year, in addition to a 14th player who was a starter in
2015 before missing last season, due to an injury,
Rice returns eight defensive starters in addition to
cornerback Justin Bickham, who earned C-USA All-Freshman honors in 2015 before
suffering an injury in training camp prior to the '16 season. He joins
linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee, the preseason C-USA Defensive Player of the Year,
defensive tackle Preston Gordon, defensive ends Blain Padget and Brian Womac,
corner V.J. Banks, and safeties J.T. Ibe and Destri White. Seniors Peter Godber
and Trey Martin lead the five returning members of the Owls offensive line,
which includes Calvin Anderson, Sam Pierce and Corey Klingler. Running back Sam
Stewart is not officially listed as a returning starter, due to his being limited
to just four starts because of injuries last year.
Rice safety Christian Bertrand
will celebrate his 20th birthday when he takes the field against Stanford Aug. 27, but his family in Houston will be hours from celebrating it, because
kickoff will be at 9 p.m. on the 26th back home.
When speaking to reporters at practice
today, head football coach David Bailiff was asked about Hurricane Harvey
churning toward the Texas coast.
"We had the same thing in 2008 (the
team was in Nashville when Hurricane Ike was approaching)," Bailiff said.
"You're honest with the players. You're transparent with them. You let
them know the sequence of events from our past experience and help them deal
"I'm proud that our governor of
Texas declared a state of emergency early, and the city of Houston has done an
incredible job of preparing for these things and getting information out to the
public months ahead of time."
Bailiff was then asked about facing
Stanford again after recently ending the 2016 season against them.
"Look, we're a different team,"
he said. "A lot of guys that didn't play in it last year are going to play
against Stanford this year. I'm excited about opening against a team like
Stanford -- a premier football team. We have to go out there and be the best
football team we can be."
At about the same time practice was
wrapping up, Rice University President David Leebron and University
Representative Y. Ping Sun arrived in Sydney Friday to join the Owls just days
ahead of Rice kicking off the football season against Stanford in the Sydney Cup.
The president's first official event in
town was a visit to the University of Sydney, where he was greeted by
university officials in front of the school's iconic clock tower. While pleasantries
were being made, Rice's fight song was being masterfully played in the clock
tower building on the university's carillon, one of only two of
the instruments in the country.
Like the football team had done days
before he arrived, Leebron started his visit with a tour of campus; however,
the campus looked a bit different today. USyd, as they like to call it, was
preparing for their annual "Open Day," when 30,000 prospective
students and families descend on the school to tour and obtain admissions
the 30-minute walking tour, Leebron was joined by Rice Athletics Director Joe
Karlgaard, head football coach David Bailiff and five Owls football players as
he met with Tyrone Carlin, deputy
vice chancellor (registrar) and professor of financial reporting and regulation
at USyd, and signed a new study-abroad agreement to make it possible for more
Rice students to go #OwlsDownUnder.
The first-of-its-kind program for
Rice with an Australian university will provide Rice students the option to
study abroad in Australia during the academic year or the summer.
"Studying abroad enriches a
student's learning and college experience, but our students sometimes find it
challenging to be away from campus during the fall or spring semester,"
Leebron said. "This opportunity to study at the University of Sydney also
gives credit for summer studies and encourages students to explore and discover
the countries and cultures they are learning about. Living in a foreign country
provides invaluable educational and life experiences."
Rice will soon set up a process
for students to apply to the program, which will begin in 2018.
The agreement will also allow
University of Sydney students to travel, study and live on campus at Rice,
where they can interact with Rice students, faculty and administrators. The
agreement between the schools is for a minimum of five years and can be renewed
for future years.
The agreement will encourage
Rice's student-athletes to participate in overseas learning experiences.
"Due to the demand of a
student-athlete's time for training, practice, competition and schoolwork, it
is difficult for them to participate in a traditional study-abroad program
during the academic year," Karlgaard said. "I'm grateful our
student-athletes can now apply for the chance to study abroad."
"In this interconnected world, the jobs of the future will require
students to have international experience -- that is why we are more than
doubling the number of students who have overseas experience as part of their
degree," Carlin said. "The University of Sydney will have the largest student-mobility
program of any other university in Australia."
"International experience nurtures curiosity, challenges beliefs
and builds relationships, and through the knowledge they exchange, these
students will have the global perspective necessary to solve the challenges
facing our world today."
Founded in 1850, the University of
Sydney is Australia's oldest university and is regarded as one of the world's
leading universities. It was recently ranked as the world's 26th-most-reputable
After the signing, the group
enjoyed tea and snacks before taking group photos near the university's
Leebron is visiting Australia at
the invitation of the Australian government. Prior to signing the agreement,
Leebron met with the Australian deputy secretary for higher education, research
and international collaboration; the CEO of Austrade; the general manager for
the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; representatives from the
Australian Research Council; representatives from the Group of 8, the leading
research universities in Australia; and the CEO of the Commonwealth Scientific
and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia's foremost federal government
agency for scientific research.
Leebron and Sun will attend the
second annual Sydney Cup, where the Rice Owls will play Stanford at Allianz
Stadium for their 2017 football season opener at noon Aug. 27 (9 p.m. CDT Aug.
26 in the United States). The game will be televised nationally in the United
States on ESPN.
The Owls football team had the
evening off to rest up before they gear up for final practices Saturday. Some
of the players headed to Bondi Beach,
while others walked downtown near the team's hotel and the city's Hyde
A new Sammy was unveiled today. Check out the video.
An important note for Owls fans
who are with us here in Sydney: Please join us Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m. at
the rooftop bar at InterContinental
Sydney, an upscale hotel minutes from the Sydney Harbour and the Sydney
Opera House. The hotel is located at 117
Macquarie St. We hope to see you there!
Also,join us for the Sydney Cup pregame and postgame
festivities. Tickets to these events are available here.
View more photos from the Owls' fourth day in Sydney by using the arrows below in the Flickr gallery.
After breakfast and morning meetings, the Rice Owls were
back on the practice field Thursday to start fine-tuning for Sunday's (Saturday in the
U.S.) season-opening football game against Stanford in the Sydney Cupin Australia.
While the majority of the team was at the David
Phillips Sports Complex on the campus of the University of New South Wales,
13 freshmen and two injured upperclassmen made Rice's international football
clinic even more international today.
The unique football
clinic was launched in 2010 by head coach David Bailiff to help initiate
Rice international students to the popular Texas and American game. By all
accounts, it has been a smashing success, with national media outlets reporting
on the Rice O-Week tradition and other universities imitating it for their own
When planning was getting underway for Rice to play Stanford
in Sydney, Bailiff and Rice Athletics officials were looking for additional
educational and cultural events to add to the itinerary. The international
clinic seemed like a perfect fit for the trip -- and it was.
"We've had such great success with our own
international clinic on campus that we reached out to the consulate in Houston
and organizers of the Sydney Cup to help pair us with a school, and that school
was Knox Grammar School," said Rick Mello, deputy athletics director at
Grammar School is one of the largest schools in the state (New South
Wales) and opened 120 years ago, according to Kieran Donohue, director of
outdoor sports at Knox.
"We have 1,800 students at the senior school and
another thousand students at our prep school," he said. "We're really
trying to professionalize (integrate) how we treat sports within the education
sector, so I think it's a great link with what Rice students are doing with
matching their academics with their performance of sports."
When the Owls arrived at the school in Wahroonga
(just north of Sydney), they walked onto the playing field and watched a
large group of students playing a game of American flag football. The Rice
student-athletes became spontaneous sideline fans, cheering on great plays,
giving high-fives and celebrating touchdowns with the young Aussie gridiron
"They're pretty good," said freshman wide receiver
Chris Boudreaux. "Their play was a lot better than what I was expecting. I
thought there would have to be a whole lot of teaching going on, but again,
they're pretty good."
After the flag football scrimmage ended, the Rice players organized
the Knox students into five groups for the five stations they had set up. Each
group ran six-minute drills. In total, there were 120 year-seven (seventh-grade)
students at the quarterback, running back and offensive lineman, receiver,
cornerback and safety, and defensive line and linebackers stations.
Earlier during the opening remarks by Owls junior defensive
lineman Carl Thompson, one young Australian, Freddie Harris, was singled out by
classmates after Thompson asked who knew the most about American football.Harris, who is a Carolina Panthers fan, said
he became a fan of American football two years earlier when running back Jarryd
Hayne from Australia broke into the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
"It became a craze here, and I
kind of liked it," said Harris, who had a good handle on the rules of the
game. "I watch (the NFL) whenever the time zones overlap. I try to stay up
with the Panthers and how they're doing. We get the Sunday night and Monday
night games here, so I'm into those."
During the hour-plus visit, a truly unexpected performance with
bagpipes broke out at midfield. Yes, bagpipes.
At one end of the pitch (playing field), someone from Knox
had brought their bagpipes to life in what appeared to be an outdoor shed.
That's when Rice freshman offensive lineman Gregor MacKellar, who is from
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, mentioned he played the bagpipes. A few minutes
later MacKellar started belting out some really good bagpipe music.
MacKellar said he has been playing bagpipes for 12 years and
has played in pipe bands and in solo competitions. "I'm currently a grade
one player," he said. With that, he turned the grass playing field into a
musician's stage, and everyone looked on and loved it. Watch the daily video
above to see MacKellar's talents.
At the end of the Rice football clinic, each of the 120
students who participated received four tickets to Sunday's Rice-Stanford game.
At about the same time the Rice-Knox event was wrapping up,
the rest of the Owls were taking turns visiting the New South Wales' Waratahs rugby facility to put in
weight-lifting sessions, a part of the training routine that Bailiff said the team was maintaining in Sydney.
Later in the day, Bryan Blair, senior associate athletic
director for sport administration and compliance, and Jennifer Brydon, senior
manager of international advising and programs, represented Rice and were
joined by Oliver Luck, executive vice president of regulatory affairs at the
NCAA, for an Education USA, NCAA and Rice University outreach event at Endeavor Sports High. The
trio spoke to a group of coaches, administrators, students and parents about
the opportunities for international students to earn scholarships at NCAA
schools. The event provided insight into what international students must go
through to be accepted into an NCAA institution.
"To get here and see how eager everyone was to ask
questions, to get knowledge and see how excited they are about sports in the
United States, it was energizing," Blair said. "I was glad to help
and spread knowledge about what we do and how we do it and to help spread the
word about NCAA competition."
With another full day in the books, the Owls were treated to an evening out at
Manly Beach. Being that it's winter here and the sun was already going down at
5:30 p.m. when the bus departed from the team's hotel, the team didn't go there for
the sand and surf; rather, they went for the shopping and dining on Manly's boardwalk.
Today's quick takes:
Rice University President David Leebron
and University Representative Y. Ping Sun will arrive in Sydney Friday and
attend various meetings. They will also make a visit to the University of
Sydney with a few Rice football players. We'll have coverage of that tomorrow.
All of us here in Sydney are aware of
the impending weather situation back home in Houston, and Athletics officials
are in communication with Rice's Crisis Management Team regarding the
View more photos from the Owls' third day in Sydney by using the arrows below in the Flickr gallery.
It appeared that the Rice football coaches' goal of breaking the
jet lag from the long journey to Australia by keeping everyone up yesterday
worked as planned; the Owls woke up Wednesday refreshed and ready to go.
The morning started off with team meetings at the team hotel and a hot breakfast
before heading back to the David
Phillips Sports Complex on the campus of the University of New South Wales
for a second day of practice and a full day's worth of activities. The team
will practice every day leading up to Sunday's (Saturday in the U.S.) Sydney Cup game against
Stanford; tomorrow they'll add a weight-lifting session at a rugby training
Today the Owls welcomed Nick Walshaw to the team's practice.
Walshaw, who is a journalist with the Daily Telegraph, is covering the
team for the rest of the week. Walshaw almost exclusively covers the National Rugby League. As he explained, rugby is
the national sport "if you ask people here in Sydney," he said.
"Now, if you ask people in Melbourne, they will tell you Australian Rules
Football." The 16-team rugby league is winding down and will be having
their playoffs in the coming weeks, so he was glad to get a break and cover us
for a little bit, he said.
Other media covering today's practice were Jodie Newell and Tom Ramsey with ESPN.
Ramsey will provide commentary on the network's coverage of the Rice-Stanford
game noon Sunday (9 p.m. CDT Saturday in the U.S.) at Allianz
Also attending practice were Stephen and Tonya Trammell, the
parents of freshman wide receiver and punt returner Austin Trammell. Along with
a group of approximately 40 other Rice Owl parents, the Trammells arrived in
Sydney this morning.
"We were absolutely blown away that Rice would be
featured on this level," Stephen Trammell said. "Being here today
watching the team practice is so surreal for us -- that we're actually in
Sydney, Australia; it's a great way for him (Austin) to start his college
Head coach David Bailiff liked what he saw out of his Rice players
"It's really been outstanding," Bailiff said.
"I'm impressed with how the team got up this morning. We've attacked the
day -- you can't tell we had the long flight. I think these guys did a great
job of being accountable to themselves on getting the sleep they needed and
"The trip was more like a day of fog," he said.
"We're back in our routine now. Routine is very important in football;
your position meetings start at this time, you're on a bus at a certain time,
so we're on our Sydney routine now and that feels good for all of us.
"Yesterday it was 102 degrees in Houston, so this is
really nice to hit this cool climate and no humidity. That helps them out here
too," Bailiff said.
After practice the team ate lunch at the practice
facility, showered up and got ready for events at their
next stop, the University of Sydney.
Upon arriving at the university, the team posed for a group
photo in front of the main campus building, which led into the unique academic
quad where the team would break into groups and start a walking tour of campus.
The quadrangle's architecture was inspired by Oxford and Cambridge universities
-- so much so that the architecture is evenly split in half, with one side
representing Oxford and the other Cambridge.
Sydney Uni, as they often refer to the school, was founded
in 1850 and was Australia's first university. Currently, 60,000 students attend
classes in the university system, and they represent more than 130 countries; foreign students make up 30
percent of the student body. No fewer than five Australian
prime ministers attended the university, including Edmund Barton, who in 1901
won Australia's first-ever federal election.
After the tour, the team gathered into a classic lecture
hall, where Sydney-based U.S. Consulate General Valerie Fowler welcomed Rice to
Sydney and the university. Fowler, who is an unabashed Stanford alumna, said
she would be rooting for the Cardinal but also pointed out that Rice beat
Stanford in 2003 to win the national championship in baseball. Fowler also
explained her nonpartisan role in representing the United States in this part
of the world and spoke of the wonderful relationship the U.S. and Australia
Following Fowler's introduction, Wayne Cotton, associate
dean for the School of Education and Social Work, led a panel on American and
Australian college sports. On the panel were Oliver Luck, executive vice
president of regulatory affairs with the NCAA; Joe Karlgaard, Rice's director
of athletics; Rob Smithies, executive director of Sydney University Sport and
Fitness; and Leonie Lum, elite program manager, Sydney University Sport and
The panel touched on a variety of topics, including the role
the NCAA plays in regulating the 24 sports it oversees for its members,
emerging sports in the United States, amateurism in sports, health and safety
issues, scholarships, the 20-hour rule (amount of time student-athletes can be
assigned to participate in sports activities) and managing student-athletes'
time, among other things.
After the panel, the team was treated to dinner in the quad
with members of the panel and University of Sydney faculty, students and staff.
Quick takes from Wednesday in Sydney:
Rice University photographer Tommy LaVergne shot these
pictures from the team's hotel this morning.
Graduate safety Cole Thomas and freshman wide receiver
Jordan Myers appeared live tonight nationally on the "Bill and Boz"
Tomorrow senior center Trey Martin and senior linebacker Emmanuel
Ellerbee will appear nationally on the Australian version of the Today
Junior punter Jack Fox and senior fullback Paine Matiscik
will appear live tomorrow on the Footy Show, which is on Fox Sports Australia.
View more photos from the Owls' second day in Sydney by using the arrows below in the Flickr gallery.
After departing campus Sunday at 2 p.m. CDT for Australia to
prepare for next weekend's season opening football game against Stanford in the
Sydney Cup, the Rice Owls
endured what is likely the farthest any college football team has traveled for
a home game -- and it might be the farthest a team has traveled for a game,
period. Between the over-three-hour flight from Houston to Los Angeles and then
the nearly 15-hour flight from L.A. to Sydney, the Owls took comfort in the
51-degree weather when they arrived in Australia's largest city Tuesday
When the team arrived in Sydney, things started off on a
positive note: They were pleasantly surprised to clear though customs in a
matter of minutes, which led them to load up on four buses and head out for a
full day's worth of activities ahead of schedule.
To help prepare the team to beat jet lag, the strength-and-conditioning football coaches formulated a plan for the team to follow
leading up to and throughout the trip. According to assistant director Bret
Huth, who was with the Cal Bears staff when they traveled to Sydney last year
for the inaugural Sydney Cup, it included wearing compression pants, getting
the team to exercise a few times throughout the flight and getting their bodies to adjust immediately to Sydney's clock.
"The most important thing to prevent further sleep debt
after the transition is to get their circadian rhythm
set to Australian Eastern Standard Time as soon as possible," Huth said.
To do that, Huth said, they wanted the players to start using the clock like they
were already in Sydney. "We wanted them in the mind-set that it was Sydney
time in L.A."
That meant keeping the players up for the first half of that
flight before letting them sleep. It also included having the players do
stretches and laps around the plane to keep them limber and to prevent any
possible clotting issues in the legs and ankle swelling. The team did laps
in Sydney time at 7:15 p.m. Monday and 4:30 a.m. Tuesday in the sprawling United
Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner. Watch a video
of Rice's Los Angeles-to-Sydney plane trip, which includes footage of the workout at
38,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean.
After leaving Sydney Airport at 8:15 a.m., the
team took about a 25-minute drive in rush-hour traffic to David Phillips Sports
Complex on the campus of the University of New South Wales for a 12-period
practice. The university, which is more than 60 years old, has nearly 53,000
students, and the sports complex accommodates 40 clubs and 5,000 athletes,
according to its director, Craig Davis. That includes tennis, 15 field hockey
teams, 25 football (soccer) teams, five gridiron (American football) teams, eight
Australian rules teams, five baseball teans, five rugby teams and cricket. Davis is a
footballer himself. He played in the Australian Rules Football league for 16
years, including appearing in nine Grand Finals, "or as you Americans call
it, 'Super Bowls,'" he said.
After getting the team's mind off the just-completed long
journey and their bodies stretched out and loose again, head coach David Bailiff attended an 11
a.m. Australian government press conference, where the Sydney Opera
House was used as a backdrop to welcome the Owls and Stanford Cardinal. Joining
Bailiff were sophomore running back Nahshon Ellerbe and punter Jack Fox.
As the Opera House shimmered in
the background overlooking the sunshine-soaked harbour, Stanford and Rice
universities were welcomed Down Under by a joey (young kangaroo) and a koala
to begin preparations for Sunday's second Sydney Bowl. ...
They'll spend the week practicing
for their season opener, but also taking in the sights and sounds a late winter
in Sydney has to offer.
"Just look at this. I think I'm changing where
I'm going to retire. I've been here five hours and already I'm thinking I've
got to consider Sydney," Bailiff said overlooking the harbour after his
side touched down in Australia on Tuesday morning.
"You look at the backdrop of this place, driving over
here, just the architecture downtown, how it's so much old and so much new and
it's all blended," he said.
While Bailiff was meeting with the media, the Owls
got checked in at the team hotel, which is centrally located near Hyde Park,
and got a much-deserved break to freshen up, get devices charged up and get
online to report back home.
In the evening the team, coaches, staff and Owl supporters
shoved off for a dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour, passing by the world-famous
Sydney Opera House and the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, the
sixth-longest spanning-arch bridge in the world and the tallest steel arch
bridge, measuring 440 feet from its top to water level.It was
also the world's widest long-span bridge, at 160 feet wide, until
construction of the new Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver was completed in 2012,
according to Wikipedia. A quick trivia question: How many different types of
fish can be found in Sydney Harbour? The answer appears at the end of this post.
The team enjoyed a buffet of beef,
chicken, ham, rolls, potato salad, shrimp, vegetable medley and salad, a fairly
traditional meal, but that could change tomorrow. (We'll wait for tomorrow
to report more on that.)
On that note, a couple of quick hits.
The Owls will hold another practice
tomorrow, tour the University of Sydney, have a meal and attend a panel
featuring the NCAA's Oliver Luck and Rice Director of Athletics Joe
Hat tip to hometown TV: KPRC and KTRK did nice,
quick reports on the Owls departing Rice for Sydney. Bailiff comments in both.
Watch the KPRC clip here and the
KTRK clip here.
The Rice Owls football
team will open the 2017 season more than 8,500 miles away from Houston as the
"home team" at Allianz Stadium when they face the Stanford Cardinal in
the second annual Sydney Cup in Australia Aug. 27 (Aug. 26 in the
The Owls closed
last season losing on the road to Stanford 41-17, but before this back-to-back
matchup, the teams hadn't played each other since 1964.
The game in
Sydney will mark the first football game Rice has played outside the United
States in its more than 100-year history.
"When (Athletic Director)
Joe Karlgaard first asked me about moving the game to Australia, I thought,
'God, it's going to be 125 degrees in Houston, which is a home-field advantage,'"
said head football coach David Bailiff. "But then you get to thinking that
it will be an incredible experience for these young men, not just to go play a
football game but to go to a different continent, a different culture. With
what they are going to learn when they are there, it's worth moving a home game
to do that."
added, "I would guess that our trip to Australia is probably the longest
road trip in the history of the world, and then we have the shortest road trip
in the history of the world: We're going to Australia to play Stanford and then
we load up the bus to play across town (5 miles) against the University of
The Owls will
depart Houston Aug. 20 on a more than three-hour flight to Los Angeles, where
they will have a short layover before taking a 15-hour flight to Sydney. The
team will lose a day and arrive in Australia Tuesday morning, Aug. 22.
traveled outside the country, so I'm really excited," said senior
linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee. "I can't wait to see what their
culture is all about. I really want to see how they live and compare it with my
own (way of life). I can't wait to have this experience."
To prepare for
the early start to the season and the unusually long travel for their first
game, the Owls opened summer camp a week early and have been preparing the
student-athletes not only for football on the field but the long flight and the
visit to a foreign country.
Last year the
University of California beat the University of Hawaii in the first Sydney Cup
51-31. As part of his preparation for Sydney, Bailiff tapped former Cal head
coach Sonny Dykes for some advice.
last year, so I've been on the phone with Sonny Dykes to find out some of the
mistakes that they made so that we wouldn't make the same mistakes,"
Bailiff said. "We know to get our guys compression pants. We have a walk and
stretch schedule on the airplane because of the length of the trip."
trainer Brad Kimble said, "As far as hydration and that type of prep,
we're in our normal camp prep already. We'll continue to practice the good
habits that we encourage all of the time.
"As for the
flight, it's relatively natural to get dehydrated on a flight, so we're
preparing food packets and making sure they'll have access to plenty of liquids
on the flight," he said. "Plus we'll be monitoring them closely
throughout the trip."
coaches and staff will be encouraged to get some sleep on the flight,
especially the second half, because once they arrive in Sydney at 6:45 a.m.
Aug. 22, they will have a full day of events in hopes of adjusting to the time
difference as quickly as possible.
While in Sydney
the Owls will attend a welcoming news conference, enjoy a dinner cruise, visit
and tour the University of Sydney, meet with Australian media, visit a rugby
training facility, visit a grammar school for a football skills demonstration and,
of course, hold football practices.
going to be an incredible opportunity for this football team," Bailiff
said. "Not only are we going play a football game, but we've teamed up
with the University of Sydney. We're going to spend a day with them after
practice talking about the Australian educational system."
Leading into the
historic trip, the team received a crash
course on what to expect during their six days in Sydney from Jae Cross, a former standout on the Australian women's national basketball
team who currently serves as the head women's coach at University of St. Thomas
in Houston. Cross previously served as an assistant coach at Rice for seven
seasons. Watch a video of her visit here.
While the Owls are down under, stories, video and photography will be posted
daily on Rice Athletics' The R-blog, along on Athletics' social media sites Facebook,
Instagram and Snapchat.
The football game,
which will be at noon Aug. 27 in Sydney (9 p.m. CDT Aug. 26 in the United
States), will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Use the right arrow button to scroll through the Flickr photo gallery.
As his former teammates continue to prepare for the next chapter in their Rice career's, Darik Dillard reflects on his journey from high school recruit to Rice graduate, four-time letter winner and one of the top 10 rushers in school history
Coming into Rice University,
I really just had the high school mindset of I'm going to come in, take three
years and then I'm going to go pro.
But after finishing my first
summer and then my first year as a freshman, I realized three things: I had to
be flexible, I learned the power of surrendering and all my successes and
triumphs were a team effort.
Your Rice career teaches you
It sounds so cliché but
people told me you have to be really good at managing your time. And that's
something I learned throughout my entire time at Rice. Having football
practices and 8 a.m. classes, every time-gap had to be utilized well. This
would carry me into my professional life, into my social life and one day, when
I become a husband or father.
I also learned the power of
As a student-athlete, you go
through a lot of hard times. Being a student-athlete in general, you go through
a lot of suffering, a lot of long nights studying and preparing for tests that
you know you're going to fail, doing projects where your other teammates aren't
helping you or you can't help your teammates. But you realize, every success
and triumph is a team effort--in the classroom or on the field.
You have a class that you
individually take or if you play a singular sport you have an idea of what you
need to do. Despite that singular play, you realize when you reach those points
of success and triumph and you recognize all the individuals with you-that
helped you along through your good and bad times.
I've had a number of people,
especially at Rice University, that helped me through those difficult times to
realize those three things: flexibility, the power of surrendering and success
and triumph are team efforts.
Growing up, young kids in all
areas of the world dream of becoming professional athletes. However, for the
majority of them that dream of working in and around professional sports
eventually becomes a fantasy. Whether because they grow up, lose the drive, or
just don't know how to make their dream a reality.
For Addison Owen, he's making
sure that he is doing everything it takes to eventually turn that dream of
working in the NBA into a reality. Owen recently spent time in May and June as
an intern with his hometown Atlanta Hawks.
I'm lucky enough to have a strong relationship with Mike Budenholzer, head
coach of the Hawks," said Owen. "I went to school with all of his kids and am
really close to his oldest son. I've gotten to know him over the past few
years. He knew about my desire ultimately to work in basketball. I'm still undecided
on whether to get into coaching or the front office. He thought that it would
be great for me to come on and intern with the Hawks for five weeks. It allowed
me to get my foot in the door and see if it's what I wanted to do."
Once done playing, there are
several routes one can go to stay involved in athletics. Coaching, scouting and
working in the front office are just some of the ways one can make a career in
professional sports. Most professional teams hire a plethora of interns
throughout the year, both in and out of season.
When seeking interns, most teams
keep their hires to a certain area. However, Owen, who wants to be either a
coach or work in the front office, was able to gain experience in both areas,
working with the coaches as well as the front office staff.
Said Owen, "I had the unique
opportunity of interning with both the video coordinators and coaching staff
along with the front office staff as well. My typical day began around 7:30.
I'd run whatever errands the front office needed me to run. Around 10 a.m., I'd
head to the court and help the Hawks players with their offseason workouts.
Rebounding, passing, playing defense. A few days, I got to jump in and play
with the guys. That was a really, really cool experience. I was also responsible
for the players that came in for pre-draft workouts. On top of that, I helped
on court with the draft workouts. Typically, I would help with rebounding and
The timing of his internship was
also crucial for Addison, as it occurred during the lead up to one of the
biggest nights in the NBA, the NBA Draft. One of the biggest things he learned was
just how much goes in to every decision that is made.
"Just being around that, you see
what goes into every decision the team makes," added Owen. "For every player,
there is so much intel. Not just as a basketball player, but who he is as a
person. To see how teams document each player; they go back and talk to their
high school coaches, high school principals and high school teachers. They look
to see what type of character the player has. That really goes to show how much
thought goes into bringing a player onto your team.
"The great part about being
around the office was what you are able to see. For example, there is a big
board filled with potential trades that they might do or potential trades that
other teams might do. It shows how much communication goes on across the board.
It shows the possibility of trades that never really come into play. Draft time
was very hectic, but I'm glad I was there at such a busy time. I think it was
the most exciting time for me. There were days that I worked 14-16 hour days.
The day of the draft, I came in at 7 a.m. and worked until 1:30 in the
Just like any job, Owen learned
that one of the biggest things is getting your foot in the door and then, once
you're in, making a good impression.
The main thing is getting your
foot in the door and once you're there, making a good impression. You have to
continue to keep the connections that you have on top of making new ones, which
is something that I think is very important. It's not set in stone yet, but
looking forward to next summer, I think I'll have the opportunity to intern
with the head of the NBA Summer League. Through that, I should be able to meet
a lot of different people who can ultimately help me down the line.
the five weeks, Owen learned many things. However, his time with the Hawks has
also given him a new outlook on the game that he grew up loving.
"Having this experience has
given me a different perspective (on the game). It's shown me how good you have
to be to play in the NBA and what it takes. On the other side, it's just as
hard to work in the NBA. When you get into it, you really have to sacrifice a
few years of your life. But, that's a commitment, like college basketball,
where you have to be willing to give something up to have an ultimate reward.