Florida Tech’s new arrivals try on equipment, interact with players, sample BBQ at special event
MELBOURNE, FLA. – It didn’t take long for some of Florida Tech’s newest international students to feel ingrained in the American culture. All it took for most of them was an event that included a barbecue, Pete the Panther, two cheerleaders and 10 football players.
In a span of two hours, students learned about football from Athletics Director Bill Jurgens in a 101 class-style session. The players showed their new friends how to throw and catch, and the students were excited to try on shoulder pads, pull over an FIT jersey and strap on a Panthers helmet.
Friends of those who were trying on the equipment stood nearby to take pictures. After those memories were captured, the students described the feeling of wearing the equipment in their native language with their friends, while smiling and watching the next person.
There were plenty of cell phone camera flashes as Pete the Panther and the cheerleaders stood in photos with students. One of the photos included Shadhab Tamboli, a freshman aerospace engineering major from India.
“[This] is different for me,” he said. “We don’t have a sports barbecue or interaction with sports people [at home]. We normally only see those that play sports on the field, not right in front of us. It was great to see them have fun. The interaction was friendly and you feel a sense of brotherhood.”
First-year graduate students Nancy Fu and Meiou Wong echoed Tamboli’s excitement. Like Tamboli this is their first-ever trip to the United States and it’s much different from their native China.
“Everything is different compared to the places I’ve lived in the past,” Fu, an electrical engineering major, said. “Everything is new, so I’m really excited and adventurous to check out the new things.”
Wong, a mechanical engineering major, admitted she chose FIT because of the proximity to the beach.
“I live in northern China where it’s very dry and cold,” she said. “My hometown is the farthest city from the sea. Here it’s wet and hot, but it’s very suitable for me. I love the sea and I love it here.”
While neither Fu nor Wong knew about football before the event, hosted by the International Student & Scholar Services, the International Student Service Organization and the football team, both were intrigued about the sport after seeing it first-hand.
“I’m curious about football,” Fu said. “I’ve never seen a football game before. It’s really different from other sports in China. I’m really interested in it. I want to stand, shout and cheer for them.”
“I never had a chance to play football in China,” Wong said. “I saw them play it here (today) and I joined them. I think it’s exciting. I want to watch them on TV.”
While Tamboli, Fu and Wong are from different backgrounds, FIT’s great education, reputation and location brought them to the United States. Although their areas of study are not the same, they will share at least one common interest…Panther Pride. They plan on displaying that pride at sporting events this fall, including football games.
Fu and Wong plan to attend the games together. Tamboli will probably be there with his friends, too.
“I’m definitely going to attend a football game,” he said. “This [event] was really exciting, and I think a football game is probably going to be even more exciting than this.”
The Panthers will kick off their second season of football this Saturday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. at Stetson University in DeLand. They will open their home schedule the following weekend on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. against Ave Maria at Palm Bay High School’s Pirate Stadium.
Season and individual game tickets are available for all five home games. For more information on tickets, visit FloridaTechSports.com or call 321-674-6228. Tickets can be purchased at the Clemente Center Ticket Office Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
2014 Panther schedule: http://www.floridatechsports.com/football/schedule/