OCC Men's lacrosse roster includes Japanese player

Koichi Nakamura discovered lacrosse from Mikey Powell highlights on YouTube

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - The OCC Men’s Lacrosse team is looking to claim another National Championship this weekend and they’re really expanding their roster to do it.

The Lazers will host the Junior College semi-final and finals Saturday and Sunday at Murphy Field.

It happens to be a long ways from the home for one of the teams newer players, Koichi Nakamura.

Nakamura was born and raised in Fukuoka Japan, nearly 7,000 miles-- a 19-hour plane trip-- from Syracuse.

Nakamura tells NewsChannel 9, "In Japan, my team is very small, first year only 11 people and one coach, very small so I wanted to play on more stronger team."

Nakamura says when he was younger surfing the internet, he discovered YouTube highlights of Syracuse University great Mikey Powell and fell in love with the game of lacrosse.

“I like creative sporting, I like creative new stuff, I like creative thinking."  He says.

Nakamura came to the attention of Lazer coach Chuck Wilbur through former OCC player Shaun Church.

"The lacrosse world is small and someone he knew in Japan said 'hey, this kid is an outstanding faceoff kid, hard worker.'"  Wilbur tells NewsChannel 9.

Despite the lacrosse bond, Wilbur admits it was very tough to communicate with Nakamura in the beginning without some help.

He says, "His phone was Japanese that converted to English to my phone and when I texted him English it converted him to Japanese on his phone so that's how we talked for literally the first three or four weeks."

Not only was the language a big adjustment, but so was the game which Nakamura says is much faster and more physical here in the US.

The other huge adjustment he says has been the weather; its much warmer where he grew up in the Southern tip of Japan than it is here.

“The slogan everywhere is ‘Grow the Game’." Wilbur says.

And apparently Nakamura is doing that; he’ll be hosting nine lacrosse clinics in Japan this summer with teammates from the OCC lacrosse team.

The Lazers take on Nassau Saturday at 1 p.m. on Murphy Field.


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