UR baseball Head Coach Joe Reina took a few weeks off this summer teaching the sport in Japan as part of a program operated by Major League Baseball.

This was Reina’s second trip with the MLB Envoy program, the first being in the summer of 2002 in Germany.

The MLB Envoy Program selects the game’s best instructors and sends them to needy baseball communities around the world. Since its introduction in 1991, the program has sent coaches on more than 600 assignments to more than 50 countries worldwide, reaching half a million people.

“The experience is simply amazing,” Reina said. “This program has coaches from all college levels and some even from coaching staffs in the Major Leagues,” Reina remarked.

He left the United States for the Far East on June 18 and returned to the U.S. on July 3 with much more than the jet lag.

Throughout his trip, Reina traveled to four military bases in Japan – Camp Zama Army Post, Yokota Air Force base, the Atsugi Naval Station and the Yokosuka Naval Base.

Coach Reina actually stayed in a hotel on the Yokosuka Naval Base, which houses some of the U.S.’s Pearl Harbor plans.

“That in itself was such an experience,” Reina said. “I had the opportunity to see what it was like for military families to live in an actual military base. It is truly remarkable to hear about the diversity that military children deal with year after year.”

During his trip, Coach Reina taught baseball all day. He mainly coached 5th, 6th and 7th graders during his stay.

He ran the children through drills, spoke at camps and clinics and taught the children fundamentals of the game.

“These young kids practice baseball during the summer like a full-time job – 40 hours a week,” Reina explained. “They are so far ahead of the United States as far knowing the fundamentals of the game, but also understanding it as well. The number of kids who play and at such a young age over there is just amazing. They even have all-star leagues for the younger kids. Kids in the United States in 5th and 6th grade are learning how to hit a ball off a tee.”

It’s quite a remarkable thing for a coach to spend almost four weeks helping and coaching the youth of Japan. That shows great commitment to his sport and to his profession.

Last spring, Coach Reina was awarded for his relentless commitment toward the Yellowjacket baseball program.

He was selected as the Coach of the Year in the Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association. He guided Rochester to a 9-3 finish in the UCAA and a share of the regular-season title. The Yellowjackets finished 25-10 overall.

Coach Reina should be recognized for his love of the game and also for the time and effort he gives back to it – not just here at Rochester, but for teaching the future players of the game all over the world.

Being accepted into the ENVOY program is vindication for a coach who truly dedicates himself to coaching the game of baseball, and Coach Reina is one of those coaches – and more.

Rovinsky can be reached at mrovinsky@campustimes.org.

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