Dec. 31, 2009
International Bowl Blog
Check in daily (or more!) with Assistant Director of Media Relations Joe Summins, who is traveling with the Northern Illinois football team to Toronto for the International Bowl, where the Huskies will battle the University of South Florida, Jan. 2 at 11 a.m.
Dec. 31, 2009
Joe Summins | Assistant Director of Media Relations | 1:41 a.m. EST
Where to begin. First let me apologize for the lateness of this blog.
Today was probably the busiest day for the Huskies since their arrival in Toronto. After its second workout at the Rogers Centre which went for about an hour and 20 minutes, the NIU football team was visited by a few special guests. Former NIU head football coach Joe Novak made the trek to Canada to catch the Huskies in the International Bowl. He spoke to the team along with four of his former players and Canadian natives Donnavan Carter, Garett Sutherland, Patrick Stephen and Orlando Bowen.
Bowen, who spoke last, gave NIU an impassioned speech before teaching them a chant he and his teammates did back in the day. After, the current and former Huskies joined in singing the Huskie fight song. I got a chance to visit with Bowen and Stephen after yesterday's practice. They took a lot of pride in not only having NIU in their homeland, but in the success the Huskies have enjoyed this decade. I'll have a feature story on the two tomorrow at NIUHuskies.com.
After practice, a group of Huskies headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame to take in the national pastime of Canada. They got see some of the history of the sport, as well as one of the most famous trophies in sport, the Stanley Cup. After touring the hall of fame, the players headed off to dinner before celebrating New Year's Eve in Toronto.
Brian Lawson's second cousin on his mother's side is a sports legend in Toronto. On Saturday, Lawson will try and a name for himself in the same arena.
I have a ton of emotions coming into this 2010 International Bowl, mostly excitement because this is my first game back after an injury that cost me most of my season that was cut short due to a bizarre injury I suffered to my left hand during practice before the Toledo game. I was very angry that I was sidelined for the rest of the season, but I didn't let it get me completely down. I worked very hard with my doctors to be ready for the post-season. I do have a bit of a chip on my shoulder but you have to in order to play this game.
Unlike anyone else in this upcoming game I also have a large amount of nerves that have nothing to do with football. I have a big name to live up to in the city of Toronto, a name that will be looking down on me the whole game, Joe Carter. Joe happens to be my cousin and even though I was only three when he hit his walk-off home run to win the World Series it still had a big impact on my life.
Growing up, all I knew was baseball. So the fact that whenever the Blue Jays came to Chicago I got to hang out with the White Sox and the members of the Blue Jays was really cool. Even though my athletic career is taking a different path then my cousin Joe, I still fill the need to prove myself not only to Joe and the rest of my family but also to the rest of the world.
Dec. 30, 2009
Chandler Harnish is playing in his second consecutive bowl game and he's enjoying every minute of the experience. It has allowed him to grow not only as a player, but as a person.
After being in Toronto for over 24 hours, I have come to realize how great of a city it really is. There were rumors of it being an unbelievable place to be, especially during the holiday season, and it has been just that. The night life is great and there are plenty of things to do. It is pretty cold up here, but what's new? We experience weather like that every day in DeKalb, so that's not much of a problem to our team.
On the other hand, the football aspect of the trip has also gone well. We had our first practice session and meetings this afternoon of the 29th, and it went very well. Practice was crisp, and we were able to get a lot of things done on both sides of the ball including special teams. The Rogers Centre, where the game is being played, is absolutely huge. First walking into the dome, it feels like the field is huge but really it's just a normal field with an exceptionally large ceiling and massive seating all the way around. A really cool first experience!
I have come to realize that this game is a very significant game for NIU because this is the first time that the football team has played in back to back bowl games as a Division I-A school. I am very proud to be a part of this bowl game and everything that it has to offer. Playing in the post-season is definitely a blessing because as a player you get the chance to experience a different area, become a better football, and get to know your teammates and coaches on a more personal level.
Hope everything is well back home with all you NIU fans! Go Huskies!
Jason Onyebuagu | Offensive Lineman | 6:41 p.m. EST
NIU offensive lineman Jason Onyebuagu is one of the rare Huskies to play in three bowl games during his career at NIU and he's come to the realization that his career at Northern Illinois is coming to a close. He is treasuring the last week he gets to spend in Cardinal and Black.
Now that we have spent a full day in Toronto, saw the city and practiced at the stadium, it has really hit me that this is my last game as a Huskie. I am excited about the opportunity to play in the International Bowl, but the best part of it all is being with my teammates for one more game.
This is a special opportunity for me and my fellow seniors. This is another chapter to our story that we have been writing for the last four years.
Over the years, we have been through so much on and off the field as brothers that it makes this trip to Toronto that much better. I can even remember back to our first bowl game. The Poinsettia Bowl was an amazing trip. The San Diego Zoo was a great experience. That was the bowl game that started my career. So I feel like the trip to Toronto is a great way to leave the NIU program and finish my NIU career.
As seniors, we definitely want to get this bowl victory and our eighth win. We have been fortunate to go to three bowl games in four years. Cory Hanson and I were talking the other day and realized that not many college football players get to experience three bowl games during their career. I think that was why we made it important to go out and have a good first practice in the Rogers Centre. Every day we get closer and closer to it being our last time to put the pads on and go out and fight for each other as teammates.
Joe Summins | Assistant Director of Media Relations | 11:38 a.m. EST
Today marks the Huskies' first full day in Toronto. The Huskies just finished breakfast and are heading into meeting before departing for their 2 p.m. practice at the Rogers Centre.
The team spent much of yesterday travelling to the International Bowl's host city, arriving at the team hotel around 4 p.m. local time. After a brief team meeting, the guys were given the opportunity to explore the city. I was just downstairs hanging out by the team's headquarters talking to some of the guys about what they did last night and what they thought of the city. You'll have to check back later today to see what they had to say, but the general concensus was the players are very happy with Tornto has to offer.
I also heard last night that a few Huskies found their way into an establishment featuring a karaoke machine. Two players, who will remain nameless, turned in a stirring rendition of Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline.
Check back a little later today and you can hear from senior offensive linemen Jason Onyebuagu and quarterback Chandler Harnish. The two are each going to have a post later this afternoon. Don't forget to check the Question of the Day to see how the Huskies spent last night in Toronto.