Coach's Assistant Finds a Place on the Sideline
COLUMBIA -- Football coaches and players have a long list of support staff folks to help them but one assistant on the Missouri football sideline surprises viewers.
Imagine going to a new country where you barely speak the language and you don't know the rules to the most popular sport.
Intimidating to some people, a challenge worth accepting to Roger Qi.
A football team is made up by many different parts: coaches, players, and then those who assist the coaches and players, people like Roger Qi.
"He'll come up to you even during practice and say some kind of joke and make you smile," senior Will Ebner said.
Roger is starting his fourth season helping Mizzou as a coach's assistant, every game, every practice, no matter the time.
"Every morning for winter conditioning Roger would call me and ask for a ride at 5:30 in the morning and I'd go pick him up and it just means a lot that he gets up and comes up there with us and he doesn't have to," Ebner said.
"There's no place else I want to be. At 5:30 in the morning I want to be here," Qi said.
Here is a long way from where he grew up, in Jung Jo City, China.
A foreign exchange program his senior year in high school brought him to Bon Terre, Missouri where he stayed with the Gibson's.
They changed his world when they took him to a college football game.
"The 2007 Nebraska football game. That was the first college football game I ever attended. Great weather. Great game. We beat Nebraska," Qi said.
Mizzou won more than just the game, 41-14, they won a new fan for life.
"I didn't know what football looked like before and one day I talked to Dad and he said why don't you go talk to the Mizzou football team and see if you can do something for them," Qi said.
So Roger learned the rules to football, by working as a coach's assistant.
"The whole thing is amazing to me," Ebner added. "I look up to him for the journey that he's been on coming over from China."
"You tell yourself there is something to learn every day. So, you go out there and try to learn. I've made a little ways but I have a long way to go still," Qi said.
He's learned life on the sidelines isn't always easy.
"I was doing the dial a down on the sideline and I got run over. It was the funniest story ever. I got up and I was like I didn't know this job was going to be this tough," Qi said.
"He standing there like you wouldn't believe. Holding firm and he got just flatbacked. Run over by five different people and everybody laughed at Roger. I wanted to go meet him. So, you're the kid that wanted to stand there. Get out of the way next time," senior TJ Moe said.
But Roger doesn't really want to get out of the way.
"What he likes it being part of the team. He's as big a part of the team as anybody else cause he's around everyday," Moe added. "He's one of the guys."
"He wants to be a part of this team and he'll do anything for the team," Ebner said.
"I'm proud to be part of the team and everybody treated me as part of the family," Qi said.
Roger is majoring in mechanical engineering at Mizzou.
He says he hasn't decided if he'll use his degree when he graduates or coach. He says he'd like to do both.
Roger is currently the assistant to safeties coach, Alex Grinch. He has also assisted Barry Odom and Brian Jones.