Ya Dig? and Inari Roll Call


These articles were featured in the Oct. 10 issue of the Rafu Shimpo in a slightly different form.

From “Ya Dig?”

While football dominates the sports world over the next few months, it must be noted that women’s volleyball is in full swing as well. First, a brief explanation of the working title. In volleyball, a “dig” is the ability to prevent the ball from touching one’s court after a spike or attack. In “Ya Dig?” we’ll bring to you all the JA girls who are setting, spiking and digging around the country.

Onto the volleyball…

South Pasadena lost in straight games to its arch rival and host San Marino Thursday night amidst a deafening crowd. The Tigers had been riding a three-game winning streak coming into the matchup.

Emma Kikuchi returns serve against San Marino (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS)

Emma Kikuchi returns serve against San Marino (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS)

Seniors Emma Kikuchi and Lindsey Kuramoto had three game points each. Lindsey added 12 assists, seven digs and two receptions, while Emma added 23 receptions and 10 digs.

“It’s always like that when we play them,” Kikuchi told the Rafu Shimpo. “It’s a real rivalry. I think we just weren’t focused enough throughout the game. The yelling got into our heads.”

The Tigers have a chance for payback on Nov. 3, when they host San Marino in a rematch. By then, the team should have back in their lineup a couple of key players who were out sick for Thursday’s match including (senior) striker Mercedes Binns.

On the season, Lindsey, who plays setter and middle blocker, has six kills, 16 game points, 17 digs, and 43 assists while Emma, who plays libero, has 17 game points, 59 digs and a perfect serving percentage.

Out in Fresh Meadows, New York senior and third year varsity member Hikari Miyazawa plays outside hitter/defense specialist for Lewis who remains unbeaten over the past two seasons and has continued that trend this year going 4-0 in league. On the season, Hikari has 13 service points, four aces, 16 digs and four kills.

“I was actually never a volleyball player, until I was told that I should try out for the team during gym class,” Hikari told the Rafu Shimpo via Facebook. “I think it’s because my main sport is tennis and the serves are similar. It’s interesting because on my volleyball team I’m always learning new things to get better from my teammates, but on my tennis team as captain, I am a leader.”

As a tennis player, Hikari has found a lot of success including being named the 2007 MVP.

She’s studying media studies, is an honor roll student, and is a member of the concert, marching and jazz bands.

From the column “Inari Roll Call.”

The Facebook experiment is going pretty well thus far. I’ve made nearly a hundred new athlete friends across the country, though I’m still trying to figure out the best way to get people excited about this endeavor. So, big ups to Tayler Tanaka out of Moanalua High School (MoHS) in Honolulu for his receptive and speedy response. Makes perfect sense when considering the fact that Tayler plays wideout for the Big Blue.

On the season, the 5-7 junior has hauled in four catches for 26 yards, rushed five times for 103 yards, returned a pair of kickoffs for 17 yards and a punt for 10 yards and been one of the many factors in the Big Blue’s successful season thus far. MoHS is riding a seven-game win streak after dispensing of Kaiser after being down 7-14 at half. The team rallied to win 32-20. With one more victory, the 2009-10 Big Blue squad will be the first team in school history to have a perfect 8-0 record.

Tayler, who wants to major in athletic training at a westcoast college, is joined by several other JA players on the team including: Michael Egami (WR), Adam Wakita (WR), Kyle Fujiwara (DB), Sage Yoshida (LB), Chasen Hamasaki (RB), David Okamoto (OL), and Jordan Tanioka (DL).

Another player I’d like to point out, thanks to a justifiably proud auntie, is Dillon Corona out of San Dimas High School. Perhaps mirroring his hapa-ness, Dillon is not only a two-way player as a defensive back and running back, he’s also the team’s kicker! In four games this year, Dillon has rushed 30 times for 368 yards, an average of 12.27 yards per game, with two touchdowns. He also has one reception on the year, but a big one for 24 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive end, Dillon has 14 tackles, nine solo, and a pass deflection. As the kicker, Dillon has converted three field goals and 18 PATs. Incredible. San Dimas is currently at 3-1 on the season after a tough loss in their last game to Monrovia, the top team in the Mid-Valley Division. The Saints righted the ship against Bonita at home Friday night. ­

Despite a loss last week, Casey Nielsen, the starting quarterback for Gahr High School, has been having a phenomenal season. Casey, who is a quarter Japanese, has completed 133 of 189 pass attempts for 1,876 yards, a 70 percent completion rate and a 119 QB rating. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns to only six interceptions and has also rushed for three scores. The Gladiators are 3-2 on the season and next face Downey on Friday, Oct. 16.


After starting the season off with a bang including 29 carries and a pair of touchdowns his first two weeks, sophomore running back Bryan Kariya of Brigham Young University has seen his production tail off over the past three. In the trio of games since his two-touchdown performance against Tulane, Kariya has only eight carries for 29 yards. BYU (4-1) has been a surprise team this year, ranking 18th in the AP Top 25 poll as of Friday. Hopefully Kariya will get more looks as the season progresses.


Scott Fujita of the New Orleans Saints, whose adopted parents are Japanese American, recorded four tackles in last week’s victory over the New York Jets. So far on the season, Fujita has 21 tackles, 15 solo, a safety and a pass deflection.

The Baltimore Ravens lost a tough game to the New England Patriots last week. In the loss, second year backup strong safety, Haruki Nakamura got into the stat book with a pair of solo tackles and two forced fumbles. The two forced fumbles are especially nice. Despite the lack of a statistical compilation, Rafu contributor and Nakamura expert Yas Tana assures me that Nakamura has been a vital cog in the Ravens special teams.

In closing, sports society seems to worship the stat. It’s become a multi-million dollar science in baseball and basketball—figuring out how to quantify with numbers what one does on the field or court. Yes, putting up big numbers should and will continue to be celebrated.

But sometimes stats are hollow. Exhibit A: Alex Rodriguez. Exhibit B: ex-Clipper Zach Randolph.

Point being, stats aren’t the reason true sports fans watch and play. What matters to them? Effort, teamwork, love and an appreciation of the game. For those who love the sport they watch or play, like my boy Tayler, keep sending me your stats, but more than that, send me your stories.

Jordan Ikeda is the sports editor of the Rafu Shimpo. He can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by phone at (213) 629-2231 ext. 148.


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