The art of coaching is a skill that never seems to be fully mastered. A plethora of factors are always weighed, and every minute detail needs to be discovered. Having a grocery list of experiences is a factor that can go a long way.
From being a player in that particular sport to coaching at every level, the experience is what ultimately creates a good and steady coach for the long haul.
Coaching legends like Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) in college basketball, Phil Jackson in the NBA, Joe Torre in the MLB, have all had great experience as both players and as coaches, eventually working their ways up to where they wanted to be.
Coach K, Jackson, and Torre are respectively considered heroes to everyone they have touched in their life.
Springfield College has their own hero in Takehiro “Hiro” Iwatsuki. Hiro was named the new men’s and women’s tennis coach on August 12 of this year.
Itwatsuki could very well become a “hero” for the tennis teams, but he plans to take the position one step at a time.
“It’s always a learning experience. I try to use all of the knowledge that I have,” Itwatsuki said.
Prior to becoming a graduate assistant, Iwatsuki had coaching positions at numerous colleges and camps across the world. His past learning experiences could make this one a smooth transition.
A native of Japan, Iwatsuki started climbing up the coaching ladder at tennis camps in Japan, like Shintokoroza and Meidaimae Tennis Clubs.
After being an assistant at Nihon University, Iwatsuki made his way to the states in 2012. Besides being an assistant at Springfield College, Iwatsuki worked at the Ken Mont and KenWood camps in Connecticut, as well as the United States Air Force Academy tennis camp in Colorado.
The impressive resume that Iwatsuki owns has been noticed by his players on the team.
“He’s got an incredible resume with the tennis world and just knows so much about it,” men’s tennis player Cody Rodriques said.
It’s one thing to have all of that experience as a coach and as a player, but Iwatsuki also brings a third dimension.
Since he arrived at the campus in 2012, Iwatsuki has been working towards his Masters of Science degree in Athletic Counseling.
His ability to understand athletes and what they go through could really go a long way for the rest of his coaching career.
“I can understand the mental game,” Iwatsuki said. “We can’t always control the way we win or not. I’m trying to have a situation where my athletes can perform their best.”
Iwatsuki’s knack for the mental game comes from the athletic counseling program. His advisor, Judy Van Raalte and Professor of Pyschology, has been by his side since the day he stepped foot onto Alden Street.
Van Raalte knows what the former tennis star is capable of.
“Hiro understands the mental, physical, technical, and tactical aspects of tennis at a high level and can apply that knowledge in his work with the Springfield College tennis teams,” Van Raalte commented.
Iwatsuki can perform on the court, perform as the coach, yet he can also perform in the classroom.
It becomes a deadly triangle, maybe to be compared to Phil Jackson’s deadly triangle offense. Iwatsuki has written several research papers on tennis, as well, regarding the physical and psychological factors.
“I have published five articles so far regarding tennis or sports psychology,” continued Iwatsuki.
Having a well-balanced background on a sport will only bring a coach success. Iwatsuki is an everlasting model of how all coaches around the country should be.
The decision to make him the new coach is a well- respected one.
“As a former Springfield College tennis team coach, myself, I am delighted to see the program in Takehiro’s hands,” Van Raalte said.
“He’s really smart on and off the court, and just knows what to do and how to win,” senior Cody Rodrigues stated.
With all of the great aspects Iwatsuki brings to both tennis programs, also comes expectations.
Iwatsuki sticks with his step by step strategy to winning but in the back of his mind he knows what the ultimate goal would be for this season.
“It is to make the NEWMAC conference tournament,” commented Iwatsuki. “This is something we can do if we work hard. We are all working for the same goal.”
Greg Fitzpatrick can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org