Japan Times feature article on UH building a recruiting bridge to Japan

JT = Japan Times

JT Note: “In recent times, however, UH has turned its attention to Japan, with which Hawaii shares strong cultural ties (about one-third of its population is comprised of Japanese-Americans). The UH, a Western Athletic Conference school in the NCAA, is not going to work on this latest project superficially. Athletics director Jim Donovan and head football coach Greg McMackin traveled to Osaka and Tokyo to make inquiries about this from late February to early March. This fact-finding mission demonstrated their earnest efforts.”

About the trip that he took with Mac to Japan, JD said:
“It’s real positive for us, because, from our recruiting standpoint, in the States, (there are) 48 contiguous states and us (Hawaii), but our population is so limited and there is not much recruiting going on there in general. So it’s only natural for us to say there are other great athletes around the Pacific that nobody else really pays attention to.” (JT)

About how they will expand their recruiting base outside of the US, Mac said:
“This year, we’ve got an Australian kid and a Samoan kid, best athlete in Samoa. And later on, we’ll get a Japanese kid and a Western Samoan kid. That’s going to be one-third of our recruiting. In five years, we will get a pretty good team. And that’s the beauty of Hawaii. It’s multicultural over there.” (JT)

About how he was the 49ers LB coach when Masafumi Kawaguchi was at the 49ers’ training camps, Mac said:
“I’ve had an experience to coach the 49ers and (Kawaguchi) was there, and there is huge love for the sport in Japan. Every day after the practice, there were 50 to 60 Japanese sports media.” (JT)

JT Note: “McMackin thinks Japanese players could make an impact at wide receiver in his team’s run-and-shoot offense. Also, he believes soccer players could turn out to be good kickers as well.”

About how Mac will encourage Japanese players to walk on to UH, JD said:
“If they do very, very well, then eventually they can earn scholarships.” (JT)

JT Note: “The UH athletic department won’t limit its search for quality athletes to just football. Other sports, including basketball, baseball and volleyball, are also under consideration. For the university, Donovan said, this will be a long-term commitment, and it won’t consist of only players. The university is considering inviting Japanese coaches and cheerleaders for exchange opportunities — examples could include coaching clinics and cheerleading events. In mid-April, the university invited several Japanese high school and college football coaches, including Doshisha University and Kobe University, to its campus in Manoa for a coaching clinic led by McMackin and his staff. It was intended to introduce them to UH and its football program, and to cement relationships with each other before pursuing athletes from Japan. The University of Hawaii is planning to hold a similar clinic, this time for basketball, sometime during the summer.”

About how UH will try to get Japanese players right out of high school, Kozo Suzuki (President of sports management company SES Inc.) said:
“It gives more options for these high school athletes after their graduation. As corporate sports are declining, these athletes have anxieties that they may not be able to survive by just playing sports. So it offers them a chance to earn a college degree abroad (while playing sports) and it helps them when they enter Japanese companies in the future. By doing so, they learn how to think about sports and its ties with communities. It’s a long-term plan.” (JT)

JT NOte: “Yet according to him, UH is even considering the establishment of a new program for student-athletes from Japan to help them pass necessary examinations, such as TOEFL and SAT in order to make the transition smoother for them.”

About how Japanese athletes could receive scholarships offered by the Japanese-American communities, Suzuki said:
“While there are many Japanese-Americans over there, as the generations are aging, they have fear that their ties with Japan are fading. That is why they’re willing to cooperate in this project.” (JT)

About how UH hopes to get a number of players from Japan soon, JD said:
“Coach Mack and I are very hopeful that we can get one or two American football players from Japan in the next few years. We will continue to work at it. We are also hopeful that we can get a few athletes in our other sports — maybe baseball, softball, volleyball and/or men’s and women’s basketball.” (JT)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sf20090609a1.html

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