Editor’s Note: I met Kohta Kurashima through our mutual friend, Tom Garvey. Tom is a Hopkins grad who has spent some time in Japan. That is where he met Kohta. I met Tom through the NYC lacrosse scene. Kohta is spending a year in New York City to play and coach lacrosse, and work on his English. When Tom asked me to help Kohta get more involved, I was happy to oblige. Now Kohta is also writing for LaxAllStars.com on his experiences within the US Lacrosse community.
Kohta Kurashima – From Japan, With Lacrosse
Hi everyone. I’m Kohta Kurashima, I am 22 years old, and I am in the US for one year, visiting from Japan. I will be writing about, and sharing, my experiences in New York. My stories might be useful for someone who wants to, or is planning to, play lacrosse in the US from other countries. If you don’t find it useful, hopefully it is entertaining!
I came to New York in May of 2016, after I graduated from college in Japan. I came here for two big reasons: 1) to improve my lacrosse, and 2) to improve my English. I want to be a member of the Japan national team squad in the future, so learning about the game in a “lacrosse hotbed” seemed like a good idea.
It is very difficult to live in a different country all on my own, but everything is new, exciting, and fascinating for me, so I’m having a wonderful experience everyday.
My first event was watching the 2016 NCAA Lacrosse Championships in Philadelphia. It was not held in New York but I found I could get there in about 2 hours by bus. When I arrived there I was surprised that so many people were enjoying the tailgate festivities in the parking area. It was like a big party in the parking lot.
First of all, I haven’t ever seen such a huge parking area in Japan, except maybe the Tokyo Disney Land lot. People would open the car up and broadcast the music, drinking and having BBQ, playing catch with children… most of these things we can not do in Japan because it has a strict rules everywhere. This was new to me, and it was a lot of fun.
The games were exciting of course. I was really impressed with the playing of the national anthem. I could feel the passion from the players, but also from the audiences. I felt a sense of honor to be here. Next year, the Championships will be held in Boston, but I really recommend that you go and watch for anyone who plays lacrosse, or likes to watch sports. It is an amazing weekend of lacrosse.
Of course as you know, there is also professional league, called the MLL in the United States. I went to watch the New York Lizards, the champions from the 2015 season. The game was held at James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University, out on Long Island. I went there by Long Island Rail Road from Manhattan and then, my friend picked up me in his car. It was a little far but I got to see many star players that I only saw on YouTube so it was exciting. I hope I can go again.
Through the kind introduction from my friends, I also got the chance to help coach lacrosse to kids. I was surprised at how good the kids were at playing! Japan has no teams for kids and the kids don’t know what lacrosse is. I’m having so much fun coaching kids and it’s really good to know what other coaches teach them. I am learning about coaching, but also playing. Teaching can really help me learn!
The team is called LC New York, and it is for kids from NYC. I also got to seem the LCNY team play Harlem Lacrosse. This was a good game for how old the kids are! You can see me in the background in the red shirt of this video.
I have also coached two weeks of Lacrosse Camp. Some of the kids were as young as 8 or 9 and some could already throw behind the back passes. Or at least they tried to. To put this in perspective, most of the players in Japan will start playing lacrosse during college, so I can make use of these coaching skills when I go home. I can teach the game to beginners now better. It will help me Grow the Game in Japan.
And I got to coach with Team USA player and MLL star, Max Seibald!
Now it’s my turn to play lacrosse.
I’m joining two lacrosse leagues, and both run for about 2 months, starting in June. The first one is called ULAX. Anyone can join from an individual to a team, so it is very open. Register and pay the money, and you can get the shirt and at least 5-6 games to play. ULAX is not only in NY, it has leagues in many places. ULAX in NY is at Columbia University. I get there by subway, and the field is very nice and clean.
The second league is located at the same field, but it is called the Gotham Lacrosse League. This is a very high-level league. There are many current D1, D2, and D3 college players or other skilled players, even more so than ULAX. It is very fun and I am having a great experience playing with them. I play on the same team as Notre Dame’s Sergio Perkovic, so it’s very good lacrosse.
I don’t have much scheduled after these leagues but it will be fun to find out what’s next. I think I will play box lacrosse this Winter, also through ULAX, with the LaxAllStars.com team.
The Japan Lacrosse Association coined a phrase, “Lacrosse Makes Friends”.
This is true throughout the whole world. I have already made many friends here. Everyone can be a friend with lacrosse. I hope many people go to other countries to play lacrosse. It is an inspiring experience.