J-TOWN BEAT: Girl Power



(Published March 24, 2015)

The gymnasium at North High School was packed last Wednesday night. “Let’s go, Saxons! Let’s go, Saxons!” rang out with a row of pony-tailed cheerleaders seated on the gym floor leading the call.

The crowd was there to see the varsity girls basketball team from North play the girls of El Dorado in Placentia for the right to compete in the state CIF finals. For the record, El Dorado went on to lose to Brea Olinda 50-46 at the CIF State Girls Championship on Saturday.

I don’t think I’ve seen that many JAs since, well, bingo night at Orange County Buddhist Church the weekend before. There are so many communities within the larger Japanese American community, and the sports community is one of the most powerful. It’s also one that I haven’t really experienced myself, so I decided to tag along with Mikey Hirano Culross, Rafu sports editor, to the game.

Thanks to Kerry Cababa, I was able to squeeze into a seat in the packed gym. The athleticism on both sides of the court was inspiring to watch, especially as someone of short stature.

Kylie Oshiro was the main defender on El Dorado’s star player, 5’10” guard Brooke Salas despite giving up nearly a foot in height. North’s swarming, tenacious defense and big three-pointers kept the game close until the very end. Even from the opposite side of the gym, I could hear coach Lauren Kamiyama urging her team on.

Patsy Takemoto Mink played high school basketball years before she represented Hawaii in the halls of Congress. At that time, the girls’ teams weren’t allowed to play full-court basketball because it was considered too strenuous.

Too strenuous? Seeing North push the ball up and down the court, take charges and grab rebounds, it’s laughable the sexist attitudes of an earlier era: that women are somehow too delicate for physical activity. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, an all-male race at the time, and faced an angry course official who tried to rip off her number, yelling “Get the hell out of my race!”

Patsy Mink as the author of Title IX had much to do with changing the attitudes of what women can accomplish. There is a direct line from Mink’s work in Congress to the young JA women playing basketball on courts throughout the community.

North High's Kylie Oshiro guards Brooke Salas of El Dorado High on March 18. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

North High’s Kylie Oshiro guards Brooke Salas of El Dorado High on March 18. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

* * *

I am not George Yoshinaga, and for that I apologize to his many loyal readers. While my husband Eric also enjoys an occasional cigar and watching the ponies, that is probably where the similarities end.

I go to see George and Susie every Tuesday and Thursday to pick up his column, and I know how much he enjoys typing it up for his fans.

It looks to me that there is at the least a printer issue going on — namely that the cartridge needs to be replaced. Hopefully we can get this fixed soon so George can resume his “ramblings.” I know how much his fans miss him when he isn’t here and we at The Rafu miss him too.

Technology is one of those things where the generation gap manifests itself most clearly. Folks my age still took typing classes and recall the loud metallic thunk! of the carriage return. The @ (at) and # (hashtag) signs were just punctuation marks, and not important markers in the language of the Internet.

One of the funnier videos online is the one of young kids being shown an old rotary phone. The kids all look at the phones as if they were alien devices. What does this circular dial do? What do you mean you only talk with this thing?

Before Gen-Xers get too smug, this exercise also works on the technology of our age: put VHS tapes and Walkman cassette players in the hands of today’s kids only proves that you’ve gotten old.

I don’t know if every generation feels that technology is moving too fast, but it definitely seems that way to me. Kids don’t use Facebook because that’s where their parents hang out online. Once something like SnapChat hits the media, the teens have already moved on to the next new thing.

So I salute the Nisei who are online and using their computers, even if some of the technology is at times baffling and intimidating. It’s true for us relative youngsters as well.


Gwen Muranaka, English editor-in-chief of The Rafu Shimpo, can be contacted at [email protected] Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.






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