Former ASU quarterback Jake Plummer returned to campus for a one-of-a-kind event on Thursday. However, Plummer didn’t headline a nostalgic football talk, instead, he preached about the benefits of “functional mushrooms” at ASU’s first-ever Shroom Symposium.
The earthy event was hosted by The Shroom Society at ASU, a student club for those interested in fungi, which invited students to learn about career opportunities in mycology. Club finance officer Hannah Berryman, a senior psychology, business and statistics major, said the society’s goal is to bring people together around mushrooms.
“We try and do it at every level so that people who have never even seen a mushroom can get into this,” Berryman said.
Before headlining the mushroom society, Plummer was better known as a four-year starting quarterback at ASU from 1993 to 1996. Plummer said he went backpacking and took psilocybin prior to the start of the 1996 season and that the team's success that year "had something to do with it."
After leading the Sun Devils to the 1997 Rose Bowl, Plummer was then drafted by the Arizona Cardinals and played 10 seasons in the NFL.
After his career under center, Plummer founded UMBO, a mushroom supplement company, with former UFC Champion Rashad Evans and researcher Del Jolly. According to UMBO’s website, the company’s mushroom products help users find harmony and “continue to expand our vision for the future.”
Besides the Sun Devil Hall of Famer, the event also hosted local mushroom experts: Candace Lewis, director of the BEAR Lab at ASU, and Erik Nelson, who holds a master’s degree in mycology.
The long-awaited Shroom Symposium kicked off with a dinner before Plummer and the experts spoke to students that, like the mushrooms they enjoy, were cloaked in darkness. Following a live panel and breakout sessions, the club opened the floor for students to ask questions and overcome their fear of fungi.
“As long as we make a difference in one person’s life tonight, in terms of educating about mycology and turning people into mycophiles, that’s really what our goal is here,” club president Jackson Parrish, a junior studying microbiology, said.
While in town on mushroom business, Plummer returned to campus after angering some ASU fans for supposedly crossing his alma mater. Plummer, who lives in Boulder, Colorado came under fire for wearing a Colorado sweatshirt at the Buffaloes game against Colorado State on Sept. 16.
Despite wearing a rival's colors, Plummer said he is a diehard Sun Devil fan and only wore the sweatshirt because he was supporting his state. Now, just weeks later, ASU will take on Deion Sanders’ Buffs this Saturday at Mountain America Stadium.
Weighing the tough matchup, Plummer said he respects what Sanders has built in Boulder, adding that he thinks ASU will put up a fight. However, Plummer said he will not be between the buttes this weekend to watch his Sun Devils.
“Teams will rise up to a different level when a team like the Buffs come in,” Plummer said. “The Buffs sometimes might play down to a team they think they're better than, so we'll see what happens.”
While acknowledging his life in football, Plummer centered his responses on his work at UMBO. After taking psilocybin and various mushrooms himself, Plummer said he believes mushrooms can be a tool people and athletes can use to potentially improve their lives.
“Maybe there's some evolutionary change and we’ve been closely related to mushrooms,” Plummer said. “When you unearth that potential, it’s understanding as humans that we're programmed for health, we're programmed to thrive, to have vitality, and to live the best lives we can.”
Edited by Alfred Smith III, Jasmine Kabiri and Angelina Steel.