Far East tourneys get official go-ahead
ISHIKAWA, Okinawa – Randy Toor waited for four weeks, wondering if DODDS-Pacific would go ahead with next month’s Far East High School spring sports tournaments, or if they’d be canceled in the aftermath of last month’s Tohoku-Kanto earthquake.So, when he heard Friday that the Far East tournaments would go on as scheduled, the Kubasaki baseball coach’s smile was one of relief.“Sweet,” said the coach of the defending Far East baseball tournament champions. “Now, we have a lot to work for.”Dragons track coach Charles Burns had been just as worried. He’s coach of the host and defending girls team champion.“Absolutely the best news I’ve had all week,” he said.Division I soccer takes place May 16-20, boys at Kubasaki and girls at Kadena, while Division II soccer is scheduled for May 16-19, boys at Osan American and girls at Matthew C. Perry, as originally scheduled.So, too, will softball go on as slated, May 23-26 at Kadena and track and field May 23-25 at Kubasaki.The only tournament moving will be baseball, originally scheduled for May 23-26 at Zama American. That will now be hosted by Daegu American, officials said, and will be played at the baseball diamonds of Camps Carroll and Walker.“We … received approval to proceed with DODEA spring Far East events hosted outside the Kanto Plain,” of which Zama is a part, according to a DODDS statement issued Friday.“Student activities and athletics are a critically important part of the educational experience,” the statement continued, citing the “need to return to normalcy” for students and families.Working to overcome challenges such as player shortages at some schools, transportation difficulties, fuel shortages and the potential danger of the quake’s aftereffects, DODDS Japan has restructured its schedule and will begin competition again April 22-23.That cleared a major hurdle in the way of Far East tournaments. But there may be situations in which some schools must combine players to form teams coming out of the Kanto Plain - particularly Zama American and Nile C. Kinnick in baseball and girls soccer.“If we have to do that, so be it,” DODDS Pacific Far East athletics coordinator Don Hobbs said.Reaction to the news was swift and positive. “Now I can chase the Far East (meet) and Pacific records,” said Kubasaki sprinter A.J. Watson, who’s taking aim at 100- and 200-meter records.“It’s a happy day. We’re excited about it,” said coach Mark Lange of defending Boys D-1 Soccer Tournament champion Matthew C. Perry, off to its best start in school history at 10-1.Daegu American officials gave assurances that they could host Far East baseball on short notice. “We can do it,” tournament director Michelle Chandler said, adding that “we’ve already secured” the fields. “We get good support from the base; that makes a difference.”On another note, the Far East film and entertainment arts festival slated for May 16-19 at the Seoul Parktel was canceled. The Far East music festival will be held in its place, rescheduled to May 15-18 from its original dates of April firstname.lastname@example.org.