From the slopes of Mount Washington to the gym floor at G.P. Vanier Secondary School, it was an action-packed Comox Valley visit for a volleyball team from Bandai High School in Niigata, Japan.
After flying into Vancouver on March 23, touring UBC and doing some shopping, the team checked into the Vancouver Island Mountain Centre on Mount Washington from some skiing fun on March 24-25.
On Monday they were at G.P. Vanier, sitting in on classes and taking photographs, then donning their volleyball uniforms to play their senior girl counterparts, the Towhees, at noon hour.
They immediately captured the hearts of the spectators with their enthusiastic high-fives during team introductions. There was also plenty of applause when the Towhees were introduced as they received their Vancouver Island championship gold medals at mid-court.
Following a spirited game, the teams broke for lunch then resumed their scholarly exchange through the rest of the afternoon.
The trip came about earlier this year when Bandai coach Tetsuo (Terry) Watanabe asked English teacher Masato Miyazawa to go on a tour of Canada and the U.S. with the team. Miyazawa, a former Mount Washington Snow School snowboard instructor back in the early 2000s, was all for it.
The two visited Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the U.S. last August, during which time they met Mount Washington Alpine Resort president Peter Gibson. “Terry was impressed with Canadian culture and the beautiufl view on the Island,” Miyazawa said.
“Before we visited the Island, I and Peter exchanged e-mails and I mentioned I was looking for school volleyball teams. He introduced me to his niece, who works at Vanier. Peter also took us to Vanier. We took many photos to show our students and their parents,” Miyazawa said.
“For our international experience program on Vancouver Island, we had a parents’ meeting last October. We showed a bunch of photos and explained how nice Vancouver Island is to visit. I and Terry really wanted our students to have some great experiences. We thought volleyball games with Canadian students would be wonderful for both, so I kept exchanging e-mails with Peter’s nice, Rebecca Sulek,” Miyazawa told the Record.
Miyazawa said the nine girls on the team had fun skiing, and he was happy to renew acquaintances with some old friends at Mount Washington. He said the Japanese girls have been impressed by how friendly everyone they have met has been.
After a visit to the Old House Spa, the team planned to return to Vancouver on Tuesday for a possible visit to Grouse Mountain and some more shopping before flying back to Tokyo today.
For more on the Bandai team, visit them at facebook.com/Bandaigirlsvolleyballteam.