BANGOR – Aaron Largay knew when he chose Husson College that one fringe benefit would be joining the Braves on their annual spring swing through Florida.
Never could the second baseman from Brewer have dreamed he would also have the opportunity to wear the Husson uniform in the Far East.
Husson College President William Beardsley announced Thursday the Braves will be traveling to Japan for 10 days in August as part of an ongoing relationship with Aomori University.
“I was in shock, really,” Largay admitted of first hearing the news Thursday. “Going to Florida is one thing, but I’ve never been to another country besides Canada.”
Largay enjoys baseball, but is aware the trip to Japan will go way beyond “It will be more of a cultural experience than it will baseball,” he said. “I hope it does something to open other players’ eyes to our team and helps with recruiting.”
Coach John Kolasinski’s team is scheduled to play five games against four Japanese university teams while taking part in other activities designed to enrich their knowledge and appreciation of Japanese baseball, education, and culture.
“Playing baseball at Husson is about more than just competition, it’s part of the student-athletes’ lifelong learning,” Kolasinski said. “This opportunity for our players to travel to Japan is fantastic and something all of us will remember the rest of our lives.”
Beardsley explained Husson has raised almost half of the $25,000 needed to finance the trip, which will begin Aug. 21 and end Aug. 31. It is a cooperative venture between Husson, Aomori University, the state of Maine, and its sister state of Aomori Prefecture, Japan.
“Husson College is developing an extraordinary friendship with Aomori University,” said Beardsley, who has lectured there on “Ecology in the 21st century.” “Three of our faculty members are lecturing and meeting with our counterparts in Aomori this very week.”
Kolasinski believes the trip also will be an eye-opener from a purely baseball perspective.
“I’m interested in the two practice sessions we’re going to have with the two teams,” Kolasinski said. “They’re quite regimented, and I really want to see if that’s how they approach the game at the college level.”
The trip also will provide a brief homecoming of sorts for Husson sophomore catcher Takeo Nakamura, who is from Saitama, Japan. Nakamura said even he may have trouble adjusting, because a different Japanese dialect is spoken in northern Japan, where the Braves will be visiting.
Husson assistant coach and sports fellow John Winkin will be making his second visit to Japan. Winkin coached Team USA at the World Championships in 1983. That squad included St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire.