Mi­nami’s mantra: take care

Wa­iakea se­nior knows ex­actly what he wants – for him­self and oth­ers

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - SPORTS - By KEVIN JAKAHI

From the start, Nate Mi­nami knew where he was headed, and he was pushed by all the right peo­ple.

The Wa­iakea se­nior out­fielder signed a na­tional let­ter of in­tent with Simp­son Univer­sity, an NAIA school in Red­ding, Calif., where he’ll be team­mates with 2016 Hilo grad­u­ate Brett Ko­matsu.

“I was hope­ful to get a schol­ar­ship to help with the fi­nan­cial cost of col­lege,” Mi­nami said. “It takes a lot of hard work and ded­i­ca­tion on and off the field to earn a schol­ar­ship. The most chal­leng­ing part is man­ag­ing time for school work as well as work­outs.”

Mi­nami, who has a 3.6 grade-point aver­age, al­ready has his fu­ture fig­ured out. He plans to ma­jor in nurs­ing at Simp­son, which fin­ished 4-50 last sea­son.

“Nurs­ing is a fam­ily tra­di­tion,” he said. “I will be the fourth gen­er­a­tion of nurses in my fam­ily. Nurs­ing will al­low me to help peo­ple, and I find that very re­ward­ing and ful­fill­ing.”

His mom Nikki is a nurse and dad Kelly is a fire­fighter. His older brother Nick is an auto tech­ni­cian in Wash­ing­ton state.

“My great­est in­flu­ences are my par­ents. They never let me slack and never let me set­tle,” Mi­nami said. “They’ve al­ways set high ex­pec­ta­tions, both in the class­room and on the field.”

Simp­son’s nurs­ing pro­gram was started in 2011, and at the time the school’s provost Dr. Stan­ley Clark said, “The short­age of nurses in the north state is chronic and prob­lem­atic.”

That likely means when Mi­nami gets cer­ti­fied as a nurse, there will be a job wait­ing some­where near Red­ding.

He’s al­ready talked to Ko­matsu about be­ing a Red Hawk, whose nest is a gor­geous 92-acre cam­pus with an en­roll­ment of over 1,200, roughly the same size as Wa­iakea.

“Brett said he en­joys it there, and the coaches are sup­port­ive,” Mi­nami said. “I like that Simp­son is a smaller school and has the univer­sity feel with­out an over­whelm­ing pop­u­la­tion. Also, their nurs­ing pro­gram seems to be re­ally good, and they seem to be ded­i­cated to their stu­dents.”

Like Ko­matsu, Mi­nami is a prod­uct of Kaha Wong’s Big Is­land Base­ball or­ga­ni­za­tion and has been pushed hard by a coach whose char­ter mem­bers in­clude Kolten and Kean Wong, Kodi Medeiros, and Jodd Carter, all pro ball play­ers.

“I started work­ing with Coach Kaha from the age of 8. He’s taught me dis­ci­pline, the value of work­ing hard, and that there is no sub­sti­tute for hard work,” Mi­nami said. “He al­ways pushes play­ers hard in the cage and on the field to reach their high­est po­ten­tial. Lazi­ness and ex­cuses are never ac­cepted or tol­er­ated by Coach Kaha. He has def­i­nitely im­pacted both my base­ball life and my life in gen­eral.

“Watch­ing spe­cial play­ers like Kolten, Kean, Kodi, Jodd, and nu­mer­ous oth­ers has shown that hard work doesn’t stop. With hard work any­thing is pos­si­ble. They helped open doors for play­ers like me to play at the next level.”

Red Hawk as­sis­tant and re­cruit­ing co­or­di­na­tor Dan Tat­ing has been a reg­u­lar at the Trosky show­case in De­cem­ber at Wong Sta­dium. He’s had an ea­gle eye on Mi­nami, who has put mus­cle on his 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame.

“The Simp­son coaches liked my hit­ting and how I de­vel­oped phys­i­cally over the past year,” Mi­nami said. “It showed that I’ve put in the work re­quired to get bet­ter. “

Kelly Mi­nami liked the fact that Wong takes con­sid­er­a­tion in hook­ing up his play­ers, es­pe­cially to schools that flock to the Trosky show­case.

“I think it’s im­por­tant that Kaha finds the best fit for each in­di­vid­ual kid,” Kelly Mi­nami said. “He does a lot for the kids and goes above and be­yond for each of his play­ers.”

Mi­nami has been a two-time Al­lBIIF first team pick. As a fresh­man, he re­ceived hon­or­able men­tion, flash­ing an im­pact bat from the start.

Last sea­son, the lead­off hit­ter bat­ted .472 and posted a .537 on-base clip for the BIIF Di­vi­sion I cham­pion War­riors.

His goal is a sim­ple one for his se­nior sea­son.

“Hope­fully, we can win a BIIF cham­pi­onship again this sea­son and for me to over­all be­come a bet­ter player,” Mi­nami said.

BRAD BALLES­TEROS/Tri­bune-Her­ald

A two-time All-BIIF first-team pick and a fu­ture nurse, Nathan Mi­nami bat­ted lead­off for Wa­iakea last sea­son and hit .472.

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