I’ll do it. ……
He raised his hand in tears. This was when Wataru Sue, 39, the coach of Sendai Ikuei (Miyagi Prefecture), the first Tohoku team to win a championship at Koshien, was a sophomore at the school. At Sendai Ikuei, one player from each grade had to resign from the team to become a student coach. Since no one was willing to run for the position, Sue raised his hand.
In an interview after the championship was decided, Sue recalled to the press, “I didn’t play a single game [in high school].
I had never played in a single game or even practiced (in high school),” he said. I just wasn’t good enough. But I wanted to know how and why I could participate in matches.”
The frustration he felt at the time helped Sue become a first-rate leader. Invited by his former high school coach, Junichiro Sasaki, he became the softball coach of the affiliated Shukoh Junior High School in 2006. He became coach of his alma mater in 2005, after Sasaki resigned when it was discovered that members of the team had been drinking and smoking.
Mr. Sue, who considers himself the “best alternate of all the alternates,” is also a teacher in the information science department. He collects data from all angles. He thoroughly analyzed how players with inferior abilities could participate in games and how they could win,” said a school official.
Rotation is made up to one month in advance. ……
Sue regularly took detailed measurements of the players’ play. Pitch speed, swing speed, first pitch strike rate, and breaking ball strike rate. …… The results were made into PDF files and shared within the team. The current situation was explained to each player and goals were set.
We also listened to the opinions of doctors, physical therapists, and others, and planned out an efficient training regimen for each of them. We have a fixed rotation of starters for the next month in practice games because we believe that the shoulder and elbow are expendable. We don’t have them pitch consecutively.
We don’t have a fixed rotation. We want to give everyone a chance,” he said, “so we frequently hold red-and-white matches and select players based on the results. Because we inform the players of our intentions before each game, they play without any worries.
However, Mr. Sue is not a rationalist who only believes in data.
He is a passionate person. Last summer, when the team lost in the fourth round of the Miyagi Prefectural Tournament despite aiming to win the national championship, he apologized to the players with tears in his eyes, saying, ‘It’s my fault as the coach. When Sendai Minami, the team they were supposed to play in the semifinals of the prefectural tournament this summer, withdrew from the tournament due to the spread of the new strain of corona, he came to the Koshien wearing an orange watch, the school’s color, saying, “I want to fight with them. He is a coach who always thinks about his players, including the opposing team,” said a reporter for a sports newspaper.
His motto is “Life is a battle of the underdog against the underdog. After achieving the long-sought first victory, he said, “Please give a round of applause to all the high school students in the country,” his eyes filled with joy.
Photo: Jiji Press： Jiji Press