OAHS hits 'grand slam' for cultural exchange

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Rojek
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In the movie "Field of Dreams," baseball brought a man and his father together. 

The power of baseball will go even further here Saturday, strengthening the bonds between two nations as Osan American High School Cougars faces the Suwon Buk School. 

This is the first time the Cougars will face a Korean team. As with any sport, both teams hope to win the game, but their main goal is to learn from each other. The players and coaches from both teams said the cross-culture exchange taking place on the diamond would improve both their playing skills and understanding of their neighbors. 

"(This game) is a milestone in American and Korean relations," said Cougar head coach Rick Mitchell. "And it is my hope that this event will lead to more interaction between our cultures. Both sides have much to share and we can learn from one another." 

Suwon Buk coach Ye, Ilnam echoed Mitchell's sentiments saying a game like this will "boost our friendship and help us understand each other better. I am sure we can learn something from each other." 

Both teams had winning seasons last year, with the Cougars earning the district champion title, and Suwon Buk making the quarter finals in the Republic of Korea National Championship Tournament. The players know that even in competition, one can learn lessons. 

"I would like to learn American baseball skills and culture," said Kim, Chang Sop, pitcher for Suwon Buk. "I like playing baseball and would like to be a professional baseball player one day." 

The Cougars' pitcher, Matthew Clark, said he hopes to improve his game by playing a strong team like Suwon Buk. 

"I hope to learn where I stand as a player when compared to the Korean teams," said Clark. "They (display) a lot of discipline and love for the game." 

This will not be the last time the Cougars go up against a Korean team. They play an away-game at the Cheonan Bukil School at 2 p.m. April 6. Playing Korea's best high school baseball team will be a real challenge for the Cougars, said Mitchell, but they hope to give Cheonan Bukil a good game. 

Win or lose, just playing a game as universal as baseball can build a bridge across cultural divides. 

"Baseball is a great way for us to show the partnership between our communities," said Daniel Burke, catcher for the Cougars. "It is important for us to show our appreciation and friendship for our Korean counterparts, and what better way than through a fun, baseball atmosphere?"