Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bruno "The Bear" Okuno: the son of an idol and a fisherman

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Kaya Kikuma, the mother of Mitakihara Magi halfback Bruno Okuno.

Bruno "The Bear" Okuno: the son of an idol and a fisherman

By Kotone Noda
The Daily Magi
December 21, 2064

Doak Walker Award winner Nobuyuki "Bruno" Okuno wasn't a halfback out of necessity. The main halfback in Tatsuya Kaname's Mitakihara Magi, Okuno chose to be a halfback because there were too many wide receivers at his high school, Mitakihara Town Secondary School, and they had a shortage of running backs. Okuno was the starting halfback in his first year and went on to lead the Angels in rushing for three straight seasons, garnering 1,000 yards rushing of more each year and at least 25 touchdowns.

Okuno runs a 4.25 40, has a vertical leap of 92", bench pressed 550, squats 600 and is an advocate of the low-carb diet for those who want to add more muscle and power. A power runner by trade, Okuno has been breaking tackles and frustrating opposing run defenses with his speed and escapability, and he also can catch the ball if necessary. His powerful running gives him the nickname of "Bruno The Bear."

Okuno was born on Nov. 11, 2046 in Tokyo, Japan to Kaya Kikuma, a former idol, and Hiroshi Okuno, a fisheries worker. At the age of two, Okuno and his two parents moved to Canada to find better work. Kikuma settled into her position as an office clerk, while Hiroshi worked long hours offshore to harvest the finest Pacific Salmon to bring to Mitakihara Town for processing and expore. It's a job Hiroshi has had for years, and a reason why Okuno has decided to become a business major at Mitakihara University.

"When I was age 7, my dad took me to the stadium which is now Tatsuya Kaname Field," Okuno recalled in a phone interview from a room inside the Madoka Union. "That was the first time I met Coach Kaname. He was a wise man, a very smart person that knew all the right things to say, and he was already a father. He was a coach that was so nice and friendly. It's as if he was a second father to me.

"After the game they had, I ended up chatting with Coach Kaname at McGann's in the Square. I talked with him about the team, what offense they run, and he drew on a large napkin some formations they use. I have the napkin to this very day; it's now framed and is an Okuno family treasure. So then we talked about school and classes and as we left, Coach Kaname said, 'If you work hard and keep playing the game of football, you might be one of my players when you grow up.'

"At first, I thought he was crazy because the team they have is real good, but they wear pink uniforms, which was really revolutionary. But I started to like the outfits and there were times I would go out wearing a replica Magi football uniform, tossing my football in the air, then carrying it, juking past passers-by, as if I was Barry Sanders.

"Years later, during my third year at MiTSS, I get a phone call. It's Coach Kaname. He said, 'Hey Bruno, remember me? It's the guys from the restaurant, Coach Kaname!' I'm like, 'Hey Coach, it's been awhile! How are you?' He says, 'We have Homecoming next week, you wanna come visit us?' I was with my friends, the Good Night Boys. I said, 'Sure!' He says, 'See you!' The following week, I visited the campus, watched the game, and after the game, Coach Kaname says, 'Well, what do you think?' I said, 'Coach, I'm joining you guys next year.' He shakes my hand and says, 'Welcome to the Family, Bruno.'

"I guess the rest, as they say, is history."

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