Spencer Smith thought he was done playing football, and had started working on a coaching career back in his home near Atlanta. But then the former University of Hawaii safety got an invitation to play in a game in Japan on July 10.
Smith said he and five other former UH players — Nate Ilaoa, Blaze Soares, Tuika Tufaga, Tala Esera and Bronson Tiwanak — will serve as player-coaches in a game in Osaka against a similar team featuring five player-coaches from UNLV.
Smith leaves his home in Kell, Ga., on Saturday for the long trip to Japan.
“I’m in good shape, still been training and working out,” Smith said. “I’ve got a coaching job at my old high school (Kell). I’ll be linebackers coach for the freshman team.”
Smith said he’s also been hired as a para-professional teacher of special education classes, working with autistic youths. He will also pursue a master’s degree in special education, probably at Georgia State.
He said he hopes part of the trip to Japan includes visiting the Sendai area that was hit hardest by the recent earthquake and tsunami.
“I would love to, but I’m not sure what the plans are,” he said. “I’m excited for the chance to play one more game.”