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The captain of the Waseda Ice Hockey Team, with a spirit that blazes in Waseda's crimson red atop the ice

Mr. Shuhei Kuji

For some time now, many people have been aware of Mr. Kuji's presence at Waseda, with his jersey of Waseda's signature crimson red and the number "21" written across the back in white. He said that as he battled atop the ice, his only thought was "I definitely don't want to play a game that will cause me to be talked about negatively behind my back."

Mr. Kuji served as captain during the 2009 school year, during which time the team's goal was "single-minded competitive spirit." So what sort of year was it for him? "My ears became bigger," he answered. Huh? "I became more able to put myself in some else's position and figure out what they wanted to say," he explained, laughing. When Mr. Kuji entered school, he didn't listen to the advice of people around him and was "mostly focused on myself...I was also prone to depending on the kindness of others." Mr. Naoya Kubo, who was an upperclassman at the time and also came from the same high school as Mr. Kuji (currently forward for the Nippon Paper Cranes), said the following: "Since you got into Waseda, it would be shame not to interact with a variety of different people!" After hearing this, something changed within Mr. Kuji: "I started considering people's words within me, no matter who they came from." By putting himself in another person's shoes, Mr. Kuji heard all sorts of different things. "My ears expanded, and I feel like my capacity as a human being has grown as well," said Mr. Kuji.

In the summer of 2009, Mr. Kuji was invited to and participated in training at the Prospects Camp of the New York Islanders, which is one of the National Hockey League's (NHL) leading teams. "My ears expanded, but I still have some trouble with my English," he laughed, looking back on the world-class rookie camp. "There are lots of players who are small of stature but who are active on the front lines of the NHL. I also can't forget the advice I received about how to continue building up my body." And seeing players of his own generation who came from all over America playing so passionately also made him feel that "I don't face as many tough situations as they do."

After he returned to Japan, he began playing with "feel, then gain victory" as his personal and his team's goal. Full of spirit, this season's Waseda Ice Hockey Team is playing with great vigor and even won the intercollegiate for the first time in nineteen years. "To tell you the truth, it was really hard to practice and take classes at the same time. But at Waseda, I was able to learn a great deal of information about the society that we live in, which is serving me well," Mr. Kuji said. Starting in April, he will begin playing with the Oji Eagles. "I hope to continue playing in such a way that I won't betray my fans, keeping in mind my role as an alumni of Waseda University." It won't be long before many people are aware of Mr. Kuji's presence as part of the Oji Eagles!

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Mr. Shuhei Kuji

Born in 1987 in Hokkaido Prefecture and graduated from Komazawa University Tomakomai High School. Graduated from the School of Social Sciences this spring. He participated in the World Championships in April 2009, and will participate in the Prospects Camp this July at the invitation of the NHL New York Islanders. In 2010, Waseda won the grand prize at the 82nd All-Japan Student Ice Sports Championship for the first time in nineteen years, and Mr. Kuji received the MVP Award. From April 2010, he will join the Oji Eagles (Oji Paper Co., Ltd.). One of his favorite characters is Fire Fist Ace from "One Piece." The source of his power is Katsugen, which is the beloved drink of people in his home prefecture of Hokkaido.