UW-Parkside baseball: Tokyo native Makita making himself at home
SOMERS — Kyohei Makita is following his dream.
It's a dream he's had for almost two decades, or since he was a tyke growing up in Tokyo, Japan. It's a dream that prompted him to leave his loving and caring family and travel thousands of miles and relocate in several different cities.
It's a dream that Makita realizes may never come true, but he's going to hang onto it for as long as he possible.
"I'm still dreaming about that,'' Makita said. "I think it could be possible, but I now know it's really a tiny possibility.''
Makita's dream is to play professional baseball, not necessarily in the Major Leagues in the United States but somewhere around the world.
His journey has already been a challenging one, full of twists and turns. It started four years ago when he attended Glendale (Ariz.) Community College in Glendale, Ariz. Then he moved on to Southwestern Oregon Community College.
Makita was set to play at the NCAA Division I level and sent out a slew of resumes to schools primarily located in warm-weather states like California, Florida and Texas.
But Makita never received any legitimate feedback and thought he might be left out in the cold. That is until he received a call from Daniel Esposito, the head coach at UW-Parkside in not-so-balmy Kenosha.
Makita conceded he didn't know anything about the place.
Asked if he had ever heard of Kenosha before, Mikita said, "No.''
Asked if he had ever heard of Wisconsin, Makita said, "Not really. I knew there was a state of Wisconsin, but I had no idea where it was or what kind of place it was.''
Not that it mattered. After having received a barrage of rejection notices from other colleges, Makita was more than willing to give Kenosha and Wisconsin a shot, if only to pursue his dream. As he quips, "baseball is baseball wherever you go.''PauseCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time0:00Loaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00Fullscreen00:00Mute
Esposito said he decided to extend a scholarship to Makita based on a glowing recommendation by Jason Cooper, a good friend and former player of his who was then the head coach at Southwestern Oregon and is now his assistant at Parkside.
"I made a call to Jason in the fall of 2015,'' Esposito said. "I trust everything he tells me about a player. He said, 'I got this really good left-handed hitter and he's still available.' ''
It didn't take long for Esposito to realize Cooper wasn't kidding. Makita made an immediate impact with his bat in his first season with the Rangers. He hit a lofty, team-high .359 and led the team in virtually every other hitting category, including hits, doubles, home runs and slugging percentage. He was a unanimous All-Great Lakes Valley Conference first-team selection.
This season, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Makita, who plays second base and first base, has been extremely productive again. He is batting a team-high .387 and also tops the teams in home runs with three and a .687 slugging percentage.