Bobby Valentine, Executive Director of Athletics at Sacred Heart University, is on his way to Japan with a U14 All-Star baseball team from Connecticut. Joining Valentine on the coaching staff, and providing photographic coverage of the journey, is Sacred Heart head baseball coach Nick Giaquinto.
Giaquinto recently completed his 26th season at the helm of the Pioneers, leading the squad to a sixth-consecutive Northeast Conference Championship Game appearance and finished the year with 555 career victories.
The All-Star team is comprised of youth from the Connecticut area and departed for Japan today for the 10-day trip. The training camp begins August 3rd with nearly 60 players from the United States and local Japanese teams participating. Those teams will take place in the Tokoku Tournament, August 7-8th, with squads from Kesennum and Fukushima Little Senior League playing a two-day round-robin tournament. An additional slate of games is scheduled for August 9 in Sendai with teams from the Fukushima and Miyagi Little Senior Leagues.
In addition to the baseball aspect of the trip, Valentine and his all-stars will take part in several cultural events, beginning on August 3rd with fireworks at Ofunato Harbor. On August 7th the participants will take part in the Tanabata Festival in the Sakari district of Ofunato. Tanabata, which translates to ‘Evening of the seventh’ is a Japanese star festival and celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi.