El Camino High School head coach Jerry Ralph has traveled further in the name of coaching American football and discovering new cultures than he will when heading to Beijing and Shanghai for the Global Ambassadors Bowl China in April.
A little more than 25 years ago, Ralph ventured to Australia – about 7,500 miles, compared with the distance of 6,400 miles to China – to coach in the Down Under Bowl. He enjoyed the experience so much that he continued the long haul in to a faraway gridiron for the next 15 years.
“Back in 1991 I had the opportunity to take a team to Australia with the Down Under Bowl,” explained Ralph. “My brother had married a New Zealander and they had five kids and I’d never had a chance to meet his family, so I was able to combine coaching with a wonderful chance to see them all. At the time, it was really the farthest place in the world you could go and there was nowhere even close to that distance. So, with China being similarly a long way away, it made sense for me to coach with Team Stars & Stripes.”
Ralph will bring three El Camino standouts with him to Asia and has impressed upon them the value of such an opportunity.
“It is the kind of experience of that you can never replace,” he added. “When I got the call from Patrick Steenberge to go, I was so excited because I knew this was putting us at the forefront of a new era for American football. The doors to China have only just started to open for the sport, and here we are, some of the first high school players and coaches to venture there. It’s fantastic.”
Ralph will make sure everyone back in San Diego hears all about the trip to China.
“I’m a history teacher and I love the different cultures of the world, and it is important that our students learn all about them,” he said. “I’m setting up a program so that all my students will be able to follow us. The boys that travel as part of the team will be able to share the posts with their families back home.”