Monday, 12 September 2011

New gig, new country, new team, new home!

Well that was a quick month of joke! So many things were happening all at once that it seems like I didn't even get to enjoy being home... Now I'm on the road again for another 8 months playing ball, this time in Japan. Hopefully after this season I'll be able to enjoy a FULL 4 month off-season for once!!!

Being home was great! Ad and Ashley got married, the east coast family came to visit for 10 days for the wedding, I got to spend time with Tess and her family and also see/hear her sing in Seattle and also Dallas, I got to play against the best competition in some summer leagues, I got to catch up with a lot of my buddies, I got to see my parents new home, I finally was home for a nice Seattle summer ANDDDDD I got to eat Chipotle/Dick's/DQ/Wendy's and whatever else I wasn't getting in Australia hahaha!

But it all came abruptly to an end when I found out I was going to be heading to Morioka Japan September 1st for 8 months for my next bball adventure! I found out mid to late August that a team was interested in signing me for this season. It took about 1 1/2 weeks of emails and phone calls to get everything figured out before the deal was set. The team name is Iwate Big Bulls, and they are a brand new expansion team in the BJ League (Basketball Japan League). The league has been around for only 8 years but has had much success. There are 19 teams this season alone. I've had a few friends play in this league over the past 2 years and had heard nothing but positive things about it, and so far so good!

When contemplating whether or not I would be interested in the deal I had to research quite a bit about Iwate and Morioka along with my good buddy Charlie Hill. Since the earthquake and sunami had happened only 6 months prior I was a little worried as to how safe it was going to be out here for me to live. I knew earthquakes were common in Japan and theres nothing you can do about those, BUT the radiation from nuclear plants was something that was a big worry for me and my family. I found many websites stating that it was safe to come visit Japan once again, as so much of their income is from tourism. I also found articles online stating that certain foods were not safe to eat and or water might not be safe to drink except for out of bottles. In the end I figured why would they (Iwate Big Bulls management/The BJ league) start a new team in an area that was NOT going to be safe for people??? It didn't make any sense... So after much discussion, I decided to at least come out here and see how things were for myself. If it wasn't safe then I would head home. You only live once, so why not make it an adventure right?

Thus far it's been awesome! I'm about a week and a half in and have nothing bad to say about the situation at all. I am living in an apartment by myself which is quite a change from being in with a host family and 2 kids (which was so fun too!). I like it, but at times it can be quiet and lonesome. At other times it's nice to do what I want when I want, and it's nice to start cooking once again :). I have no car but get rides to and from practice which is everyday from 12-4. Around my apartment there are a couple stores where I can get everything I need, and a big mall is only a 15 minute walk away. Me and Shawn live in the same complex, but the other guys live about 15 min drive away which sucks.

In this league each team can consist of 5 import players (players outside of Japan, usually American). We have 4 including myself, then one Korean player as our other import spot. The other American guys are really cool and I think we'll get along just fine for the eight months. Shawn is 27 and from North Carolina, Thomas is 24 and from Detroit, Sean (AKA Chris) is from Houston and he's 24 also. J.R. is the Korean player and he's a real cool dude too, he's 27. Having 3 other American guys here with me will be a new experience for me as usually there is only one other guy with me as the imports. I think it will help with time passing by as we can all hang out and kick it together, especially on road trips. As far as the rest of the team goes, I like everybody so far. It's been a challenge to try to remember everyones name lol, but I've gotten some nicknames for guys that will be easier to remember! The team isn't super young or old, but I think we'll be ok. For the most part the Japanese guys are all guards 6'1 and under (pretty short). We have one guy that's about 6'5 or 6'6 and that's it for height from the local guys. It's been fun already trying to make conversation with some of the guys on and off the court with the language barrier, but we're both teaching each other new things. Life really is different when your thrown into a new situation.

The coach is a Greek guy and a real funny dude. I'm glad that he's my coach. So far he's been real helpful with letting me know what exactly he wants from me on the court. Like most other European coaches he's really loud and has a funny personality. It's pretty funny to watch him at practice try to explain stuff to the Japanese guys without letting the translator get a word in, then just expect them to "get it" hahaha. I think it's a learning process for him too!

We have 2 pre-season games next weekend then our first official game is October 8th. The season goes until April 30th but could go longer with playoffs. It's a 50 game season roughly with 2 games every weekend, which will also help with time flying by. There are teams all over Japan and we will be doing a lot of traveling, which I'm excited about! It should be a real fun season once the ball gets rolling. As of right now we're practicing hard and trying to get to know each other on the court. We've been doing a lot of conditioning and that's been good, but also sucks haha!

The weather out here so far has been pretty nice. Around 70 degrees and a little humid, but not bad. It will soon change in late Oct/early November with cold weather and lots of snow. I haven't experienced a winter like that in a longggggg time if ever! So it should be quite interesting...

Japan has been quite the interesting country so far. I've noticed a lot of things about their culture and way of life. For instance, the respect everyone gives each other when talking is way different than any other country I've been in. Like with the bowing to each other at the beginning and end of the conversation. I've also noticed how clean it is everywhere! There literally is no liter anywhere... it's crazy! The respect they have not only for each other but also for their country is something that the US has no idea about lol. Another tradition for them is taking off your shoes when entering a house, or even the gym. It's different but definitely a sign of respect for that persons home. It also seems like the people here are sooooo willing to be a servant to you, kind of like when I was in Florida with the Southern Hospitality down there, but WAY more haha. There's a lot of things and I'm going to continue to pay attention so that I can fit in and maybe even bring them back home with me :)

I think that's about it for now. I'm going to try to stay on top of this blog better than I did at times in Bunbury! I hope this reaches everyone in good spirits. I miss everybody at home so much already, but I know the time will fly by as usual and the experience will be one I never forget. I'm always available by email or skype and of course FB lol!

My prayers go out to those families who lost someone in the 9/11 tragedy 10 years ago...

I'll leave you with some pictures I've taken so far-

Until tomorrow...
"Make it Happen"

Here's a pic of Morioka...

Here's a pic from my house and a typical doorway lol...

Here's the mall by our place...

A DELISH rice bowl from the mall! Only 480 YEN baby!

1 comment:

  1. Hey man,

    I am also living here in Takizawa (small village connected to Morioka in the NW) and actually just got back from the Big Bulls' first game about an hour ago...lots of fun as I have missed watching good bball since I moved here from the US about 8 years ago.

    Anyway, definitely look forward to catching more games, and if you have any questions about Morioka, or Iwate...or hell even Japan in general, please feel free to give me a shout.

    Best of luck in your upcoming season!