San Jose State University football quality control coach Fred Guidici can't wait for the 2017 season to begin. To start the official first day of summer, he took his catch trademark phrase, "We Need Ya!" to Japan for the 27th annual New Era Bowl game on July 1 in Osaka's Oji Stadium.
Guidici isn't alone when it comes to the Spartan influence in one of Japan's largest cities. Former San Jose State football players Sam Tomlitz, a tight end and now a Spartan assistant athletic performance coach; Chris Kearney, a wide receiver and holder for kick scoring tires; and long snapper Mark Amann, who just completed his eligibility in 2016, are putting on the pads one more time.
Founded by former Spartan defensive coordinator Kent Baer in 1989, the New Era Bowl is an annual all-star contest for Japanese football players. The two teams include two American coaches and approximately 12 recently graduated college football players.
Former San Jose State defensive line coach James W. Jones is one of the American coaches in this year's game.
"Coach Fred (Guidici) contacted me and asked me if I wanted to come to Japan with him. It was an honor that he asked me. I thought my football career was over. To extend it by one more game means a lot," said Amann, who expects to play at a linebacker position and handle the long snapping duties.
"I had been training for Pro Day (in April), So, I just continued off of that. (Athletic Performance) Coach (Mike) Nicolini and Coach (Gary) Uribe really helped me," Amann added about finding a reason to stay in the best shape possible."