By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this month’s edition, we take a look at a new job for Ichiro, a national champion in basketball, and happenings in golf.
Ichiro returns to Mariners as a coach
Some people take up hobbies, some go on trips, and some sit in front of their television when they retire. But Ichiro Suzuki is back at it with the Mariners. After officially retiring in Japan in March, Ichiro has returned to the Mariners to help with young players.
According to the Mariners, the former All-Star will return to the club as Special Assistant to the Chairman and will report to general manager Jerry Dipoto. He will work as an instructor with the Mariners and for their minor league club in Tacoma. Ichiro’s focus will be on outfield play, base running, and hitting.
Ichiro’s new role started on May 1, as he was invited to attend coach’s meetings and ease into his new position. As one might expect, Ichiro was ready to coach, dressed in his old uniform and even served as a pitcher throwing to batters during batting practice.
It’s unlikely that Ichiro will travel with the team but mainly be a resource when the team returns to T-Mobile Park.
UVA’s Clark helps lead Cavs to NCAA Championship
A year after the University of Virginia became the first number 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed in the NCAA Men’s Tournament, the University of Virginia won the 2019 National Championship with a win over Texas Tech. The Cavaliers were led by guard Kihei Clark.
Clark, whose mother is Filipino and father is Black, was recruited to Virginia out of Woodland Hills, Calif. At just 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds, Clark has had to dispel the myth that he was “too small” to play. In fact, many colleges passed on Clark due to his size. His father, Malik, played college basketball at the University of Hawaii-Hilo and named his son after the island of Maui, where he proposed to his wife.
Clark was a standout at his high school and on the summer basketball circuit. He averaged 19 points and 7 assists his junior and senior years in high school and chose Virginia over UCLA and Gonzaga.
As a freshman, Clark led the Cavaliers in a tough Atlantic Coast Conference. He started 20 of 38 games, averaging 4.5 points and 26.8 minutes per game. In the championship game, Clark played for 33 minutes, with 3 points and 4 assists. Much of Clark’s job during the tournament was helping others get shots and playing defense. As only a freshman, one may see Clark continue to shine for the champs.
Zhang secures Drive, Chip and Putt Championship
Bellevue’s Angela Zhang won the Girls 7-9 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National on April 7. The national tournament culminated in the finals held on the same grounds that Tiger Woods won his major.
Zhang won the driving and chipping portions of the competition and placed second in putting.
At only 4-foot-10 and just 75 pounds, she drove a ball 189 yards, which was the farthest by 33 yards in her age division.
It was Zhang’s first time in the National Finals.
CT Pan wins first tournament
Former University of Washington golfer C.T. Pan won his very first PGA Tournament this past April with a win at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina. The native of Taiwan was set to compete in a playoff with two other golfers. But, while he was at the practice range, he learned that the other golfers did not tie Pan. Instead, he won the tournament by one stroke and could celebrate instead of practice for another round.
The win drew him the first-place prize of $1.2 million dollars, which is likely the biggest payday of his career. Pan became just the second Taiwanese-born player to win a PGA Tour event. Since turning pro in 2015, Pan had won two events on the PGA Tour Canada, but this was his first in the United States.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.