Olympic Dreams for Kanno

“He is strikingly kind. Kanno is very helpful in class. He enjoys getting to know the other students and helping them ‘find’ words when they are struggling to explain something.”

Students come to us from many walks of life. Still, it’s not every day that a potential Olympic coach walks through our doors!

Kanno Kochiro arrived in Minnesota in January 2013. The Japan Olympic Committee sent him through a two-year program to study training methods under Hugh McCutcheon, current head coach for the University of Minnesota women’s volleyball team (and former Olympic coach for medal winning US men’s and women’s teams).

Though he came to learn, Kanno brings plenty of his own experience with him. Starting in junior high at age 12, volleyball has been a lifelong love. He played in high school, college, and professionally–and went on to coach professional men’s and women’s teams to multiple championship titles.

But volleyball’s not the only thing Kanno’s studying! Although he learned English in school, it was mostly with books. Communicating in daily life has proved a much greater challenge. And interpreters can only do so much. So when the team’s director, whose husband happens to be a former student of the ELC, suggested he come here, Kanno jumped at the chance.

No surprise, he’s approached the classroom with the same dedication and hard work he demonstrates on the court. Between practices and games, schedules can be tricky, but Kanno somehow manages it all. He even rode his bike through the Minnesota winter to get to school!

Kanno also shares his strong sense of teamwork with his classmates. One of Kanno’s teachers states:

“He is strikingly kind. Kanno is very helpful in class. He enjoys getting to know the other students and helping them ‘find’ words when they are struggling to explain something. Like telling his classmates that a good way to help them pronounce his name is to think of who he is–a coach. ‘Coach-eero!’”

Since he started in October 2013, Kanno’s moved from a beginning level English all the way to our most advanced class! It’s with sadness and joy, however, that we say goodbye to him now. Kanno returns to Japan this month to officially accept a position as co-coach to Japan’s national team, which means–pending qualification–he will be in Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics!

Congratulations, Kanno! We’re so proud of you!

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English Learning Center

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