STANFORD, Calif. – The seniors have graduated and the Stanford lacrosse team finished its season a month ago. But this isn’t goodbye for the Cardinal, at least not yet. Actually, the team’s biggest adventure may lie ahead.
On Saturday, the Cardinal embarks on an 11-day journey to Hawaii and Japan. In Japan, the team will play three games, including a matchup with the Japanese national team. The Cardinal will meet royalty and the players will stay not in a hotel, but with host families around Tokyo.
“This is something that has been on my list to-do since arriving at Stanford,” said coach Amy Bokker, who just completed her sixth season on The Farm. “Not only are our players going to enjoy great international competition, but they’re going to immerse themselves in the unique Japanese culture.”
The journey begins at Pearl Harbor. That’s the team’s first stop after disembarking in Honolulu. The Cardinal will spend three full days in Hawaii, leading a clinic and enjoying surfing lessons on the North Shore and at Waikiki, and snorkeling among Green sea turtles in Hanauma Bay. Their Hawaii adventure ends with a luau at Paradise Cove at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
On June 25, the team leaves for Tokyo, and then a tea ceremony in Edogawa City, where the players will join their host families.
The Cardinal play games on three consecutive days in events sponsored by the Japanese Lacrosse Association. The JLA was created in 1987 and soon after began hosting annual games against American teams to help promote the game domestically and to foster cultural exchange.
The driver of the annual contests is JLA director Yusuke Sasaki, who spent a year as an exchange student at Johns Hopkins University, a collegiate lacrosse power, and wrote in an e-mail to Bokker that “lacrosse is my lifetime passion.”
The marquee event is what’s called the International Lacrosse Friendship Games. It will be played June 29 as a doubleheader at the Edogawa Athletic Stadium in the Tokyo suburbs, beginning with Stanford’s contest against the Japanese national team. Afterward, the Japanese men’s national team plays Drexel University.
The day begins with an opening ceremony followed by a greeting from Princess Takamado, a member of the Japanese Imperial Family, a huge honor for both Stanford and the JLA. The mayor of Edogawa ward and the president of JLA also will be present. Bokker and one Stanford player will receive the honor of a personal meeting with the Princess in the stadium’s royal room before the game.
On June 30, Stanford will play a scrimmage against a team representing four of Japan’s Ivy League universities – Keio, Meiji Gakuin, Rikkyo, and Waseda.
The trip concludes July 1, with a session of sumo wrestling!“We’re looking forward to the camaraderie and growth as a team through this unique experience,” Bokker said. “We’re very thankful to the families and donors who helped to make this possible.”