The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Education > People



Players who led their softball team to victory!
Two guys with strong bonds of trust

Mr. Yutaro Naito
Mr. Ryo Mitsuoka

This summer, the Waseda Men's Softball Team won the World Championship after traveling a long distance to the US. This team with a long tradition were able to fully exert its potential not only because of the competency of each player but also the presence of Mr. Naito and Mr. Mitsuoka who supported the team as secretary and assistant secretary of the team, respectively.

Mr. Naito entered Waseda University to become a physical education teacher. He joined the team soon after his entrance because, he says, "The former captain of the team (Takahiro Kuga) introduced himself, saying, 'I won the Inter High School Championship, playing softball,' and I thought, 'Wow, he is cool! Maybe I should do it, too,' which was the turning point." He belonged to a volleyball team in junior and senior high school and was a pure beginner at softball. In an environment where all the other teammates had had experience in softball or baseball, he worked hard to become a regular player.

Mr. Ryo Mitsuoka

In contrast, Mr. Mitsuoka says, "I played softball throughout six years of elementary school and devoted myself to baseball in junior and senior high." Through baseball, he realized the attractiveness of softball again and started to play the sport at Waseda. "In Japan, softball is often associated with women, but overseas, it is a life-long sport played by both men and women," he said. "Whichever university I entered, I was determined to play softball, and as the Waseda team is strong, I was happy when I passed the examination!"

What do the Secretary and Assistant Secretary do? "Everything outside the playing field," says Mr. Naito. "Arrangements for visits are part of it." "I am computer savvy, so I back up what Naito cannot do like batting average calculations of games and website management." They say that the Secretary and Assistant Secretary are naturally expected to do everything perfect, and are in a position in which if they make a mistake, they can easily lose trust. They really felt it during this visit to the US.

Mr. Yutaro Naito

"Just before leaving Japan, we realized that our plan was different from the travel agency," they said, showing their regret. "It was our biggest mistake in life."
Did the tour go well? "Yes, thanks to the help from the professor, we could tour as scheduled. But we had many problems, big and small. It was because we didn't properly communicate what he should have communicated. We should have fully said what we wanted." Their positive attitude for taking advantage of mistakes for future success was impressive.

"The Secretary has to pay attention to opinions of members muttered weakly from time to time," says Mr. Naito. "Even when I hear many thoughtless words, I listen and always think about creating an environment where each player can practice easily for the team." Mr. Mitsuoka agrees, "True, I was in a position where others did things as a matter of course, but after being assigned as the Assistant Secretary, I started to feel thankful to seniors."

What changes have come about? "My way of looking at things. I have come to know that behind everything, there is someone supporting it. For example, the Assistant Secretary sounds like a subordinate, but in fact, we cannot do without him. In preparing for the last tour, as I was busy with a teacher employment examination, he helped me in many ways," said Mr. Naito, expressing his gratitude, looking a little embarrassed. "Work is shared in a ratio of eight to two (laughing) but I do my job, believing this "two" is important," says Mr. Mitsuoka a little proudly. "I have learned that if you have an ability to do something people don't want to do or cannot do in a group, you will always be needed."

They have supported and helped each other as the Secretariat and Assistant Secretariat. Now the Inter Collage Softball League is finished, and the new captain, secretariat, and assistant secretariat have been appointed. The two of them watch fondly over juniors who are working hard toward the next victory under new leadership. "It was a job with heavy responsibility, but was very challenging and rewarding," say the two guys with a smile on their tanned faces.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Mr. Yutaro Naito

Born in Fukui Prefecture in 1989. Graduated from Fukui Prefectural Koshi High School. Senior, School of Sport Sciences. Secretary of the Men's Softball Team. Won the World Championships* His favorite celebrities are Ai Kato and Masaharu Fukuyama. "The Softball Team is the best school of my life!"

Mr. Ryo Mitsuoka

Born in Nagasaki Prefecture in 1999. Graduated from Nagasaki Prefectural Nagasakihigashi High School. Senor, School of Sport Sciences. Assistant Secretary of the Men's Softball Team. Won the World Championships* His favorite celebrity is Mana of Manakana (Japanese twin actresses, Mana and Kana Mikura.) His recent pastime is iPhone4. "I vow to get my driver's license!" * Held in Des Moines, Iowa, USA in the summer of 2010.