Baseball team returns from Japan


Sports editor

The City of Federal Way’s baseball team returned last week from sister city Hachinohe, Japan, with memories, pictures and a 2-1 record.

The team won its first two games — 3-2 and 19-0 to a pair of Hachinohe All-Star teams — before losing to Kosei Gakuin High School 10-3 in the final game of the trip.

But while the scores of the games will fade from memory over time, the experience of visiting a foreign country won’t soon be forgotten.

“It was a great trip,” said co-coach Jeff Housman. “The kids had an awesome time and have nothing but positive things to say about it. It exceeded their expectations. They were pretty nervous before their home stays, but they had a blast with their families.”

Team members spent five days touring Hachinohe and staying with host families.

“I’m very proud of this delegation,” said trip coordinator Toby Weymiller. “They represented us, Federal Way city, Federal Way high schools’ baseball and the United States of America very well.”

Prior to the trip, players were briefed on Japanese customs, which helped prepare them for the stay with host families.

“I just wanted to say how great the Japenese people are,” co-captain James Van Stralen wrote in an e-mail to the Mirror. “They were all extremely humble and very giving. The thing that amazed me the most was how the whole city just took us in and accepted us as if we had known them for a very long time. Overall it was just a great life-changing experience that we will never forget, plus most of us are planning to try and go back and visit another time.”

The trip was planned last year by former mayors Michael Park of Federal Way and Nobuo Nakasato of Hachinohe. They envisioned a youth baseball tournament as part of their emphasis on cultural exchanges and to commemorate the 10-year sister city relationship that began in 1993.

“This was an excellent way to honor our 10th anniversary as sister cities,” said assistant city manger Derek Matheson. “The entire City Council is elated with the way our players competed and the manner in which they represented their city and nation.”

Former Hachinohe Mayor Nakasato offered his thoughts on the visit in an e-mail to the Mirror:

“I would like to thank the people of Federal Way for recently dispatching a group of high school students who participated in the sister city high school baseball games in Hachinohe. The players from Federal Way showed the forcible, wonderful play that is characteristic of the United States, the birthplace of baseball. When the players from the Hachinohe teams saw how the Federal Way team responded to success and how they played as hard as possible, the players here realized that there are no borders in sports and, more than language, sports allowed everyone to communicate better.

“Following the final, when both teams’ players gathered and exchanged each others’ hats, wind breakers, etc., or when the teams gathered in front of cameras together, I realized that this plan was a success and I feel that the bonds between Federal Way and Hachinohe were further deepened. The players from Federal Way were able to see first hand the heart and culture of Japan through their home stay experience in Hachinohe. Spending time with the high school students of Hachinohe also allowed for the Federal Way students to see this generation of Japanese.

“When the team boarded the night train to leave Hachinohe, both the home stay families and the Federal Way team shed tears of sorrow. I think that the five days were special and unforgettable for everyone who was involved. Since the signing of our sister city relationship back in 1993, I have had the honor to work with mayors, the Federal Way Sister City Association and many other citizens of Federal Way, everyone’s support and cooperation has assisted in creating a mutual understanding between both of our cities, which has truly deepened our relationship.”

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