The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

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Three athletes that won second place at the World University Championship
Aiming to be the top student team in Japan, their long-cherished wish

Kosuke Nakamura (center), Fourth Year, School of Sport Science
Kevin Cogran (right), Third Year, School of Commerce
Itsuki Kato (left), Second Year, School of Commerce

The American Football Kanto University League kicked off in September. This year’s team is centered around Captain Nakamura, Cogran, and Kato. Waseda University wouldn’t be the same without them as they have combined high-level techniques, power, and speed.

They played Finland in their first match of the World University Championship. The Japanese team swept them 84 to 0 as they attacked the opposing team using a precise strategy.

When Nakamura entered junior high school, he wanted to play a sport where his height (over 170 centimeters at the time) would be an advantage, and started playing American football. While the junior high school he went to did not have an American football team, he was able to train with the high school team, gaining three years of experience there. The strength he gained through playing with athletes older than himself has led to his current performance as one of the best offensive linemen in all of college football. “Kosuke is overwhelmingly powerful. Since I regularly practice with him, I feel like opponents are light when I run into them in a game,” said Kato. Cogran, who has a British father and Japanese mother, took up American football in high school on the recommendation of his relatives. His ability soon developed and he was selected as a national team member for the under-19 championship, having become a promising linebacker. Nakamura described him by saying “Kevin is a talented player. He is a reliable teammate because he always makes a big play at a crucial moment and stirs up the team.” Kato also started playing American football in high school. Although he is small, he supports the team with his natural quickness. “Kato is a wild player with great intuition,” explained Cogran.

The three players talked about their impressions of each other as players in a very friendly atmosphere common to Waseda. They participated in the 1st World University Championship in American Football held in Sweden last May as members of the national team. The national team achieved crushing victories over Finland, China, not allowing them to score even once, but then they were beaten badly by Mexico. Although the team did not win the first championship, they performed brilliantly and did come in second place. “We were inferior to Mexico in terms of both power and technique. We realized at the championship that there are still many things we need to learn,” said Nakamura looking back on the tournament. “I think our Japanese-style clever plays worked well against the opposing players even if they had more skill and a stronger physique,” Cogran said. “Needless to say, we learned from our opponents, but I also learned a lot from top university players on the same team. It was a shock to see that they outperformed me in every way,” Kato expressed.

They passed along the precious experience of playing with different teams of the world to their team, and are ready to compete in the upcoming league games. This is especially true of Nakamura as he has a strong passion as captain. “I entered Waseda University because it has yet to win the championship in Japan even though it has been known as a strong team since the club was founded in 1934. I was attracted to the idea that I could lead the team to the top. So, I definitely want to achieve good results. As our skills are not enough at this point in time, we want to overcome the challenges of each game to achieve a higher level as individuals as well as a team.”

They get a ticket to the KOSHIEN BOWL (final games of the All Japan University Championships) only if the team is among the top of their league and then survives the Kanto Collegiate Football Championship and Eastern Japan Champion League. The Big Bears’ fight to the top starts now as they make their way along the long, hard path to becoming the best in Japan.

Normally rivals, players from American football teams of universities all across Japan united as one when they put on the Japanese uniform.

Kosuke Nakamura blocked the opposing defensive players with overwhelming power.

They continue to train hard as they aim to be the best college team in Japan.


Kosuke Nakamura (center), Fourth Year, School of Sport Science

Originally from Tokyo, Kosuke Nakamura graduated from the Third Senior High School of Nihon University. He is a hard worker and studies about football by reading past American football magazines and watching videos of games.

Kevin Cogran (right), Third Year, School of Commerce

Originally from Tokyo, Kevin Cogran graduated from Waseda University Senior High School. He is very tidy and always keeps his room clean.

Itsuki Kato (left), Second Year, School of Commerce

Originally from Tokyo, Itsuki Kato graduated from Waseda University Senior High School. His hobby is reading and he often borrows books from his friends living in the same dormitory.