Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tatsuya Kaname: Of Fish Soup, Noodles and A Long Life

Tatsuya Kaname, the longtime head coach of the Mitakihara Magi.

Tatsuya Kaname: Of Fish Soup, Noodles and A Long Life

By Uzuki Shimamura
The Daily Magi
January 16, 2070

7 a.m. PT in Mitakihara Town, British Columbia. At the home of Mitakihara Magi head football coach Tatsuya Kaname, the greatest head football coach in history gives a simple broth a simmer. He takes dried bonito flakes and shrimp stock, tosses in a hefty bunch of egg noodles and then throws in a plethora of other hearty ingredients, such as green onions, imitation crab, salmon, char siu pork, SPAM Oven Roasted Turkey, Portuguese sausage and seaweed.

"The native Hawaiians call this dish saimin," explains Coach Kaname as he tucked into a bowl with the other residents of the house, all of who helped mold the university for years: Dr. Madoka Kaname, Dr. Homura Akemi, Mami Tomoe, Sayaka Miki, Nagisa Momoe and Kyouko Sakura. "Today I have been called on to prepare breakfast. Good thing that I am leaving the football operations to the coaching staff today, so I can actually visit the town like a regular pensioner."

Indeed, Coach Kaname would be eligible for benefits as a pensioner, just like his five wonderful wives, as he likes to call them. But he has no intentions of retiring from his work at the University, at least not now. Inside the house, a few cats are sleeping, as are a few Clara dolls, one with a nose bubble sticking out of its face while asleep.

8 a.m. arrives, and Coach Kaname is off to do shopping at the Lawson Station with Dr. Kaname and Dr. Akemi for three hours before settling for lunch at McGann's after dropping the goods home. Where are all the trophies and accolades? They are all in the Mitakihara Athletics Hall of Fame, glistening behind walls and walls of glass cases. You won't see them at Coach Kaname's house or even in his office, which is full of books about the best coaching practices for football teams and other sports teams. 

"I've mellowed out in recent years," Coach Kaname said over lunch, eating a new addition to the menu, the footlong Gatsby sandwich, a staple of South African cuisine, made with real wagyu. "I have decided that those who transfer can return to campus to pursue another degree, if they so wish, and they will be welcomed back. I have decided to personally repatriate former players who want to come back. What is the point in disowning those who want to exercise their freedom of choice? So that's that."

The afternoon falls, and Coach Kaname returns home to cook dinner with the others. It is now 6 p.m. PT. While a quaint dinner of budae jjigae with extra gochujang is being served, he checks the messages on his smartphone to answer questions from some members of his coaching staff. Soon, the day will come when one or both of the coordinators will have to be replaced by a position coach, as has been the custom for many, many years. As for Nagisa, a generous wedge of Stilton keeps her hunger at bay. 

Outside of football, Coach Kaname lives the life of a wise old grandfather, in the company of his partners, with memories of his children and grandchildren keeping the bloodline alive. Besides coaching the game, Coach Kaname has taken up playing golf, fishing and jogging with a number of old friends from the Men About Town. He holds lifetime membership with the Mitakihara Town Yacht Club and the Mitakihara Town Sports Club and will pass it on to his second son, Shiroyuki, once he graduates from the university.

"The day will come when I will have to take the big elevator to the place in the sky with the others, and soon this house will be taken over by my son or maybe one of my daughters," Coach Kaname said. "It won't happen now, but I know that it will happen soon. That's why I eat plenty of saimin with extra salmon and noodles, while exercising my body and mind so that I can continue to answer the question: why am I here? I keep looking for the answer every day. The important thing in finding the meaning to all things is not to find the answer itself, but to embrace the journey to find it."

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