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Baseball club deepens exchanges by holding a volunteer baseball clinic with high school students in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake

In order to support recovery through baseball clinics in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, for two days on January 28 and 29, Waseda baseball team took practice for high school baseball players in Miyako City and Rikuzen Takada City, Iwate Prefecture. The 14 members led by coach Takeshi Okumura and captain Kouki Sasaki, who participated as part of volunteer activities conducted by the Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center, through the untiring efforts of the high school players responding to the same tough drills used at university reflected, "We still look at things overoptimistically," and "The form of devoted high school students wanting to improve their baseball skills even amidst the harsh conditions struck a chord in my heart", and as well as being given bravery themselves, promised to contribute to giving dreams to the children through their baseball activities.

The baseball clinic was realized because Miyako High School baseball coach Yasushi Sato (2003 Graduate from the School of Human Sciences) and Takada High School baseball coach Akishi Sasaki (1986 Graduate from the School of Education) were both Waseda university alumni. At Miyako High School, they gave instruction to 86 children from seven schools on snow-covered grounds, splitting them into three groups, battery, infield and outfield, and practicing for four hours in the morning. The boys chased the ball with loud voices and vowed to play at the Koshien national tournament.

Afterwards, they moved to Takada High School and stayed at the school's facilities with the Takada baseball team. When captain Sasaki, a graduate of Waseda Jitsugyo High School, told of his experience of winning the summer Koshien national tournament with his senior Yuki Saito (Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters), the baseball boys listened with great enthusiasm. On the 29th, indoor practice took place at Takada High School with 105 players from seven schools.

Captain Sasaki, who also toured areas completely wiped out by the tsunami, said, "It was an unthinkable sight. Seeing those high school students try without giving up in the midst of recovery gave me a strong sense that I want to show them a Waseda victory in the league."

Practice at Miyako High School on grounds still covered in snow

Commemorative photo with the baseball boys in front of the Miyako High School building

The baseball boys even got stuck into university-style training and let out loud voices at Takada High School

Baseball club members teaching the basics of catching. Training took place according to field position.

Briefing session held at Abe Dormitory and a vow to win the league and offer continual support

The members who participated in the recovery support in the disaster zone reported their feelings and what they had learnt to about 100 team members at the "Abe Dormitory" lodgings on February 16. The 13 members split into three groups and reported, "We're not sure if we could be that positive if we were the victims", "We were forced to have another look at what we call normal sense of values", and "If there is anything we can do to help, we want to continue in any way possible." Manager Kenichi Fukada summed up by saying, "I felt the social responsibility of Waseda. I hope that you spend each day carrying pride of Waseda baseball. You faced the high school students in earnest. I think you carried out your duties as representatives of our university."

Coach Okamura commented, "With baseball's mission of giving dreams, bravery and excitement, you conducted activities for Tohoku support, and it was a meaningful experience. It was only a few members, but at the briefing session, those members related the situation in the region and the feelings of the high school students. Being able to share it as the baseball club was extremely pleasing. The activities aren't temporary, and the support won't stop. It is important not to forget the people in the disaster zone and be grateful to the many people who helped you. I want you to treasure the feeling that you are being allowed to play baseball."

Messages of thanks such as, "It was like a dream. It was a great experience", "Not only on the skills side, but I also felt, learned, and yearned for many of the human aspects of baseball activities", and "From now on, I will have an existence of progressing strongly, not looking at myself or the future of the region as a 'victim', but as a 'person who promote the reconstruction'. I am truly grateful to baseball that gives me a clear head, baseball that gives me dreams, and the warmth of the people I meet there", were introduced with the team members listening on in a dignified manner.

Members reporting what they learnt through the baseball exchange

Messages of thanks from the baseball boys in the disaster region adorn the Abe Dormitory