Trainer Yazawa’s journey comes full circle

Junko Yazawa, third from right, with the MLB training staff at Tokyo Dome in November.

Junko Yazawa has come full circle. Fifteen years after being told she was unqualified to be a pro baseball athletic trainer in Japan–because women are not allowed–Yazawa did just that in November.

Her first year with the Arizona Diamondbacks ended where her journey started, in Japan, when she was part of the medical staff of Major League Baseball’s postseason All-Star tour to her homeland. Despite being a big hit with the Diamondbacks staff, Yazawa is anything but an overnight success.

“I told him I wanted to be a baseball trainer, and he said, ‘You’re a female, so no way you can be one in Japan. No way.'”

Junko Yazawa

One year during a trip home, Yazawa, a certified athletic trainer in the United States and the daughter of a former pro ballplayer, asked Chunichi Dragons star Kosuke Fukudome to arrange an incognito visit to the training room at Nagoya Dome, the home park of her dad’s old club.

“I wanted to see the training room of a Japanese baseball club,” she said last March in Phoenix. “I was talking to the trainer and assistant trainer and they showed me around. One of the assistant trainers asked me, ‘What do you want to be?’ I told him I wanted to be a baseball trainer, and he said, ‘You’re a female, so no way you can be one in Japan. No way.'”

“I went home and talked to my dad, and he said, ‘Of course.’ But I was already in the U.S. at that time. I had already been certified, so I was like ‘I can be one in the U.S.’ I was like, ‘Whatever.’”

Read the full story on Kyodo News Plus HERE.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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