Friday, June 21, 2024

Williamsburg Baseball Youth Headed for Japanese Cultural Exchange in August

The 12U Williamsburg baseball team will be headed to Japan in August as cultural ambassadors (Williamsburg Baseball)

WILLIAMSBURG— Thanks to a grant project at William & Mary, a Williamsburg Youth Baseball League team will head to Kamakura, Japan from Aug. 4-14 as cultural ambassadors, all while playing the sport they love.

Amy Rains, head coach of the Williamsburg team headed to Japan, explained the grant program.

“The project came about because of a grant that the William & Mary government program got. The program is trying to study the U.S. and Japanese relationship and the history behind that. One of the proposals they saw said ‘we’ll send a youth baseball team to Japan and we can basically do a cultural exchange’,” Rains said.

The team will be in Japan for 10 days and those days are filled with all kinds of activities.

“The first three or four days, we have some cultural experiences planned. We will visit certain temples and shrines and religious places that have been part of their culture for hundreds of years. We’re really acting as cultural ambassadors to the United States,”

In addition to the baseball team, William & Mary faculty, William & Mary students, and players parents will also be in Japan.

The U.S.-Japan Baseball Diplomacy Project at William & Mary explores the important role baseball has played in shaping US-Japan relations over the past 150 years. The project is a collaborative effort between William & Mary students and professors in government, international relations, and public policy.

In the middle of the ten day trip, the kids will get a chance to participate in home visits where they will stay with a Japanese host family. Towards the tail end of the trip, Williamsburg youth will compete against Japanese youth of the same age range in exhibition baseball games.

Rains, who was an athlete throughout her life and is a former Jamestown High School JV softball coach, is excited to share the experience with the kids.

“This is such a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s such a unique experience as American’s to experience a completely different culture, but a culture that shares the same passion and love for a game? No other country in the world loves baseball like we do and like the Japanese do. For young kids who are really passionate about baseball and who love and have grown up playing the game and have followed the game, having this opportunity to share this in a totally different venue and a totally different aspect is just such a unique experience,” Rains said.

The exchange is one of the events that the project has brought. In October 2023, MLB stars that have played in both Japan and the U.S. were part of a symposium at the college, the project also compiled a baseball trivia game on its website, and more.

While much of the trip is covered throughout the grant money, the team is fundraising for additional jerseys and pants for the players, hats, coaches shirts, and necessary equipment. The team is aiming to raise $3600.

“Williamsburg is going to be on the front of our jersey. We’re going to wear the American flag, we’re going to wear the state department flag on our uniform sleeve. We want to represent this area with pride and if we could get some community support rallied behind us, that would make it even more special,” Rains said.

Fundraising is on-going for the team through the William & Mary Giving page. For more information on the US-Japan Diplomacy Project, visit bdp150.wm.edu.

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