Japan or bust: High school baseball team will make trip


The Mirror

It’s official, another Federal Way high school team will play baseball in Japan this summer.

The city, along with the Federal Way Sister City Association, will send a high school baseball all star team to Hachinohe, Japan, June 25 through July 5. Federal Way and Hachinohe entered into a sister-city arrangement in 1994 to foster cultural, educational and business exchange opportunities.

“We have a schedule that looks like we are going to play four or five games,” said Federal Way mayor Dean McColgan. “It’s going to be a fun thing for the kids.”

The cultural/baseball exchange will be similar to the 10-day trip Federal Way high schoolers took in 2002. The all-city team included 13 players from Federal Way, Jefferson and Decatur high schools. This time, McColgan estimates 16 to 17 players and two coaches will fly to Japan. Federal Way High School’s Eric Fiedler, who made the trip in 2002, has already been named the head coach.

Tryouts for the all-city team will take place either the first or second weekend in December and will be open to all high school-aged players living within the Federal Way school district boundaries.

“The goal is to be competitive,” McColgan said. “We are going to be playing one of the top-five high school teams in all of Japan. It is going to be very good baseball and we want to have a competitive team there.”

During the 2002 trip, the Federal Way team played in front of crowds of 3,000 at stadiums around Japan on weeknights. This time, games are scheduled for weekends, which could yield even bigger crowds.

“They take their baseball pretty seriously,” McColgan said. “They want to be good hosts and come out pretty heavily.”

The players will stay with host families in Hachinohe, immersing them in the Japanese culture. During the trip, players will visit temples and other sites in the region, attend high school classes and a Tokyo Giants baseball game.

Once the team is selected following next month’s tryouts, the fund-raising portion of the trip will kick in.

In 2002, the Federal Way Sister City Association, the players and the city raised money and arranged housing and transportation for the team.

The price tag that went along with that trip equaled out to approximately $30,000. An anonymous donor eased the burden by coming up with $12,500. McColgan said this time around, airfare alone to Japan might cost as much as $2,000 a person.

In 2001, Michael Park, then mayor, and the Hachinohe mayor conceived of the youth baseball tournament as an emphasis on cultural exchanges and to commemorate the 10-year sister city relationship.

“I still talk to kids (from the 2002 trip) and they can’t say enough about the trip,” McColgan said. “And usually the baseball games are not what they talk about. It’s an experience every kid should have.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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