In addition to representing his country there has been a bigger reason for Brig Walker’s excitement about playing in the World Championships.
Walker, a 22-year-old outside linebacker for the United States team in the 3rd IFAF World Championships, has some Japanese heritage, and is feeling a supreme bliss right now.
“My father, Brad, is of European descent and my mother, Debbie, is of Japanese descent,” Walker noted Friday. “She is sansei (third generation Japanese), making me yonsei (fourth generation), or ‘hanbun yonsei’ (half yonsei).”
It’s like a dream-come-true for Walker, who is visiting Japan for the first time, to play football on Japanese soil.
“When I first got the call that I was selected for this team from our football director, Todd Bell, I was very excited,” said Walker, who played his college ball at Princeton, where he majored n molecular biology.
Last fall, in his final season at Princeton, Walker had a stellar year, recording 52 tackles (28 solo), two sacks, four forced fumbles, an interception, and was named All-Ivy League second team.
“I love the game of football and Japan is somewhere I’ve wanted to go for years,” he said. “I continued to work out after my collegiate career ended in the fall just in case this opportunity came around.”
For Thursday’s game between the U.S. and Germany, which Team USA won 33-7, Walker’s family came all the way from the States to see him play. It gave him extra incentive on the rain-soaked gridiron.
“They’re excited to visit Japan in the first place,” said Walker, a native of Vancouver, Wash., of his family. “My mother has been here twice, my father has been here once, and this the first visit for my sister and I.
“I would say that as a ‘mixed’ American family, we are excited to have the opportunity to visit Japan, where part of our ancestry came from, but extremely honored to play and cheer for America, the country that we come from.”
Walker said his Japanese-American great-grandparents came from Yamaguchi Prefecture and hopes to visit a few distant relatives there after the World Championships.
But before that he’s got to the finish the job at hand — winning the championship for the U.S.
Sunday’s title game against Japan at Todoroki Stadium may be one of the highlights of his football career and could be the shining moment of his life.
Even though he’s part Japanese, Team Japan is the opposition for Walker, who has recorded three tackles combined in the Americans’ first two games against South Korea and Germany.
“They will be very tough,” Walker said of the Japanese team, which has advanced to the final with two 48-0 shutout victories. “Japan is very fast across the board, very technically sound, and very disciplined. They will no doubt give us issues if we can’t tighten up a few of the problems we had against Germany.”