Japanese Language and Lacrosse

July 20, 2018

Hillary Hempstead

lacrosse players running on field
Kinori Rosnow cradles the ball during a game against Nagoya University
Photo credit: Provided by Kinori Rosnow

A love of Japanese culture and language led Kinori Rosnow ’17 to live, work, and play lacrosse in Japan.

Kinori Rosnow ’17 always felt a strong connection with the Japanese language and culture, thanks to parents who taught him about both. Rosnow’s mother grew up in Japan, and he spent many formative years with his Japanese grandparents. During his first two years at Oberlin, Rosnow studied Japanese. But a hectic lacrosse schedule and a demanding course load as a physics major led him to put a pause on his language studies. Without full immersion, he found it difficult to gain the fluency he desired. So the Kirkland, Washington, native devised a strategic plan to master the language that would send him to Japan for both work and play.

The former varsity lacrosse player’s plan crystalized when he found out that the next Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships were slated for 2018.

“I decided that not only would representing Japan in the [FIL World Championships] would be an awesome lacrosse experience, but it would also be a cultural experience through which I could finally say ‘thank you’ to the generations who came before me.”  

Rosnow identified three things he needed do to make living in Japan a reality: do well in his physics classes to be an attractive applicant to possible employers; become good enough at lacrosse to make the Japanese national team; maintain his Japanese language skills.

Before his final year at Oberlin, he landed an internship in Tokyo at Oracle Japan. The internship not only gave him valuable experience working professionally in the country, it also provided him the opportunity to learn about the tryout process for the Japanese national team in lacrosse.

“I worked the full-time internship and spent mornings, evenings and weekends training, and visiting as many teams as I could to practice and figure out how to make [the team],” says Rosnow. “I also used the internship’s network to meet with people at other companies in Tokyo.”

During his senior year, Rosnow attended an international recruiting conference in Boston and learned about a company called Tecdia that was hiring for their R&D team in Tokyo. He found the company’s ethos to be a near perfect fit for his aspirations of playing lacrosse in Japan.

“Tecdia emphasizes ‘work-life balance,’” says Rosnow. “They encourage their employees to pursue their passions outside of work and, as a result, have numerous employees who are or were competitive athletes.” After interviews, Rosnow accepted a full-time position as an engineer in Tecdia’s R&D and engineering department.

Once settled in Japan, Rosnow set his sights on playing lacrosse for the Japanese national team. He knew that in order to be invited to tryouts, he’d need to become a standout player in the adult league.

“Soon after I decided to work at Tecdia, I reached out to my contacts on a team called Advanced-Hangloose. I signed up for the league and played with them. That season we went from being in the lower league to the third team in Japan.”

After excelling in league play, Rosnow was invited to try out for the national team. After several tryouts, he earned a spot as one of 23 players on the team. This July, Rosnow will fulfill his goal of playing for the Japanese team in the FIL World Lacrosse Championship held in Netanya, Israel.

Rosnow credits his experience at Oberlin with his ability to manage both his work and lacrosse schedules.

“Playing varsity sports while studying at Oberlin is not easy, and I wanted to do the best I could at both,” says Rosnow. “I think it’s a sign that you’re doing it right if you are taking on challenges you don’t know you can overcome. The lessons come from the process whether or not you succeed at achieving all your goals. Oberlin provides the opportunity and tools to rise to the occasion.”

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