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The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

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Successfully juggle coaching and e-school!
Good stimulus makes me go on in spite of difficulties

Mr. Norio Tanabe

Mr. Tanabe is the batting coach of the second team of the Saitama Seibu Lions. He was a member of the Golden Age of the invincible Seibu Lions (1986 - 1994). "When I joined the team, the Lions had many star players," reflects Mr. Tanabe. "We had famous players like Hiromichi Ishige, Tsutomu Ito and Koji Akiyama, and it was great to see them play." By the way, Kazuhiro Kiyohara was Mr. Tanabe's junior but was treated specially, and it was Mr. Tanabe's role to hear complaints from the manager and coaches. After retiring in 2000, he became a batting coach of the second team in 2002. Mr. Tanabe coached players in the first team now such as Hiroyuki Nakajima and Takumi Kuriyama. "Nakajima and Kuriyama are players totally devoted to practice," says Mr. Tanabe, revealing a behind-the-scene story about star players. "When they didn't get good results in a second team game, they used to do extra practice."

In 2006, while serving as a coach, he joined the School of Human Sciences, Waseda e-School. The reason he got to know about the school and entered it was an e-school pamphlet he saw at the professional baseball OB club. "When I was a high school student, I planned on going to university if I couldn't make it as a professional baseball player. My wife did a correspondence course at another university and encouraged me." However, coaching and school didn't seem to be an easy road. "I took a psychology course, because I felt it might be useful for coaching. However, I have to submit reports, and I had a tough time keeping up with the workload. When I am on tour, I always take a computer with me and listen to lectures. If the hotel room has no network, I take the class in the lobby. People passing by look at me as if to say, "What is that guy doing?"

Continuing e-school, however, widened his perspective. He now feels that working as a coach and learning an objective view through study is a good match. "To graduate in four years, I have been golfing less and turned down invitations to go out (laughing). Now I'm working on graduate research." In spite of such tough times, how has he continued e-school? "At e-school, I can connect with the other students through BBS, etc., and I don't feel lonely. Classes give me a great intellectual stimulus, and as I feel I am studying a high level of content, it is very motivating. His professor, Tadashi Yoshida, takes Mr. Tanabe to activities to promote Tee Ball (baseball without pitchers). He attended meetings he usually doesn't go to and had chances to meet celebrities. Mr. Tanabe talks about the expanding human network brought about by his university life, with a smile, "It is really worthwhile to have opportunities to meet people active in different fields." He adds that he will incorporate what he has learned from university in coaching and establish a unique instruction method. Thanks to the appearance of a coach with a comprehensive range of knowledge and a broad perspective, the Saitama Seibu Lions may become stronger in the future.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Mr. Norio Tanabe

Born in Yamanashi Prefecture in 1966. Graduated from Yamanashi Prefectural Yoshida High School. Currently studying in the Faculty of Health and Social Welfare, School of Human Sciences, Waseda e-School. Has played baseball since a young age and joined the Seibu Lions after graduating from Yoshida High School. He became a regular shortstop in his third year with the team, contributing to the Golden Age of the Seibu Lions. He was a right hander/hitter, and he says, "My unique point was being able to hit high balls, sometimes even swinging at balls way out of the strike zone." After retiring, became the batting coach of the second team of the Seibu Lions. Many of his former students are now famous players in the first team. Right now, he is working on his graduation research and is aiming to graduate in 2010.