Nov. 15, 2007
Stanford, Calif. - Having played the best in the U.S., the Cardinal now heads to the land of the rising sun to take on the best of Japan. With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, Stanford Lacrosse will be spending it overseas in Japan as the team prepares for its nine-day tour of the country. This is the second tour for the program, as the team also toured Japan in the fall of 2003. The NCAA allows teams to travel overseas once every four years.
The team has spent the last couple months working hard on the fundraising to secure the trip, and provide for an exciting itinerary including visits to Hiroshima and Kamakura. The team's home base will be in Tokyo.
The Cardinal's first scheduled competition is on Tues, Nov. 20, when it faces the Seitoku All-Stars at 7:00 pm local time. Matches will continue vs. Waseda University on Thurs, Nov. 22 at 7:00 p.m. Waseda is from the Kanto Club 1st division, which is among the highest competition in Japan. The Cardinal will wrap up up its matches against Sivilla on Friday, Nov. 23 and against Mistral on Saturday, Nov. 24. Mistral last season was the 2006 JP national champion.
Japan is a dynamic country with a thirst for the game of lacrosse. With a relatively new National Team, the Japan World Team captured 5th place in the 2005 IFWLA World Cup, defeating long time member Wales. The Cardinal is scheduled to play four matches while in Japan, including top Clubs, and All Star teams including National Team players.
Players and coaches begin their journey on Saturday, Nov. 18 with a morning flight out of San Francisco. The team will arrive in Narita on Sunday evening local time and will begin sightseeing on Monday morning.
"The Japanese people love lacrosse," said Uhlfelder. "When you teach or play there, enthusiasm is returned to you three-fold. It is a very welcoming place. In general the Japanese have an exuberance for life, and a spirit and work ethic that defines their culture. Those are some of the reasons that our program has made it our goal to take this year's international tour to Japan. The team can't wait to see Japanese historical sights as well as be immersed in the culture."
Two of the three current members of the coaching staff have visited Japan before. Assistant Jen Kasper traveled as a college player in 2006 with her team from UMBC. Head Coach Michele Uhlfelder first visited Japan in 1997 as a member of the World Cup Team. In the team's match vs. Canada, she was awarded Player-of-the-Game honors for her multi goal performance. Then she sent Stanford's first team there in 2003.
Uhlfelder said, "When I was standing on the podium at the Gold Medal Ceremony during Closing Ceremonies of the 1997 World Cup, I promised myself that when I became a head coach, that our team would visit Japan. I wanted my players to see what I saw in the culture--an abundance of tradition, mixed with technological advancement and cultural progressiveness that is unique to Japan. I fell in love with the culture, the athleticism, and the generosity of the people. Only later did I learn much of the history that defines the Japanese-American relationship. Given our past, I am touched by the bonds, generosity, and good will that we share."
Since 2002, the lacrosse bond between Stanford and Japan has been strong, starting with the first group of 18 players who attended Stanford's Elite Overnight Lacrosse Camp. Since then, close to 50 players have attended summer lacrosse camp.
"We are grateful for the support that we have received and to our donors--parents, family, fans, friends, Stanford donors, and a handful of perfect strangers," said Uhlfelder. We have been touched by people's generosity and their heartfelt contributions have made this trip a reality. People have been excited about our player's opportunity to be immersed in Japanese culture. Our donors have had the vision to know that the trip will make a difference in our player's lives, and they have the vision to know that our players will make a difference in the lives of many people as future leaders."
The squad returns home on Sunday, Nov. 25.
Check back to www.gostanford.com for game updates, pictures, and team diary entries over the next two weeks.
DAILY TOUR SCHEDULE
Nov 17 Depart SFO
Nov 18 Arrive Japan
Nov 19 Bullet train to Hiroshima
Nov 20 Match #1 vs Seitoku All Stars
Nov 21 Sightsee in Tokyo
Nov 22 Visit Kamakura; Match #2 vs. Waseda University
Nov 23 Match #3 vs. Sivilla; Stay with Host Family
Nov 24 Match #4 vs. Mistral (2006 Japan National Champion); Clinic at Tamagawa University; Stay with Host Family
Nov 25 Visit Shibuya; Depart Japan