Frank Macias, who taught and coached at Matthew C. Perry for 12 years and is now coaching Kadena's baseball team, is back at his old school this weekend for a series of games against Japan teams.

Frank Macias, who taught and coached at Matthew C. Perry for 12 years and is now coaching Kadena's baseball team, is back at his old school this weekend for a series of games against Japan teams. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – Alighting Thursday afternoon off of ANA Flight 1268 from Okinawa and boarding a bus outside the airport terminal for Iwakuni, Frank Macias couldn’t suppress a smile.

“A piece of me is here and always will be,” Macias said as the bus rolled onto the base toward the place where he taught and coached for 12 years, Iwakuni’s Matthew C. Perry High School.

Now coaching Kadena’s baseball team, Macias brought the Panthers baseball team to Iwakuni for a weekend series of games against his old Samurai team, E.J. King and Marist Brothers.

“It’s surreal,” Macias said. “I’m just thinking we need to go and play our best baseball. I’m sure it’s going to hit me” when the games begin on Friday.

The weekend series of games is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Kizuna Stadium in Iwakuni’s Atago Sports Complex.

And it’s one of several sports events in Japan and Korea that at least one coach referred to as a “Far East dress rehearsal.”

  • In addition to the baseball at Atago, Perry’s and King’s softball teams will play four games at Kizuna’s softball field.

  • Kadena’s boys soccer team also traveled to Iwakuni to play a weekend of games against Nile C. Kinnick, Perry and King. Perry’s, King’s and Kinnick’s girls will also play two days of matches.

  • American School In Japan is hosting its first girls soccer spring sports festival since 2019; it had been canceled since 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kadena’s and defending Far East Division I champion Kubasaki’s girls teams are entered in the six-team tournament.

  • Humphreys is also hosting Kubasaki and Kadena in the largest track and field meet ever held at Blackhawks Field. The Panthers are taking 33 athletes and the Dragons 19.

  • Kadena’s softball team is also traveling to Korea for a softball jamboree at Osan. Humphreys, meanwhile, will host a baseball jamboree.

  • And Yokota is hosting its own version of a Far East dress rehearsal, the DODEA-Japan track and field meet on Saturday.

All of that is preparation for Far East tournament week, April 29-May 4: D-I baseball is at Kinnick, D-II at Osan, D-I softball at Kubasaki, D-II at Zama, D-I boys soccer at Humphreys, D-I girls on Guam, D-II boys at Perry, D-II girls at Robert D. Edgren and track at Yokota.

Macias coached Perry’s baseball and football teams to Far East Division II titles in the 2016-17 school year. He had revived the Samurai football program in 2012 after it folded following the 2004 season.

He and his wife Candy transferred from Perry to Fort Campbell, Ky., following the 2022-23 school year to be closer to their sons, Austin (Class of 2016) and Garrett (2018). They were there only nine months before Macias took a teaching job at Kadena Middle School.

“We didn’t see them any more than when we lived at Iwakuni,” Macias said. “Japan is our home right now.”

Kadena plays Perry in the first baseball game at 3 p.m. Friday.

On the pitch, Kadena faces Kinnick in a rematch of last April’s Far East D-I boys soccer final, which the Red Devils won 3-2.

This time, the Panthers will be without three of their strongest offensive players, Frank Stare and brothers Elijah and Yoshua Whipp.

“It’s going to be a good test,” Panthers coach Abe Summers said. “I’ll have my whole defense but we’re missing three-quarters of our offense.”

Both Kadena’s and Kubasaki’s track coaches said they welcome the chance to see other athletes.

“We’ll be going up against different competition for a change and test ourselves against other teams,” Kadena track coach Reginald Winn said.

And the Dragons’ and Panthers’ hosts are equally happy for the chance to see new faces, Blackhawks’ athletics director Ben Pak said.

“Kadena and Kubasaki have great track programs along with great coaching and we look forward to competing against them,” Pak said. “Maybe next year, Humphreys could travel to Okinawa for a competition.”

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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