Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

January 25, 2005

Standout Athletic-Training Alumna Leads Japanese Students
on Whitworth-Hosted Study Tour

Accomplished Whitworth alumna Chika Hirai, '96, a certified athletic trainer who teaches at Fuji Athletic and Business College, in Tokyo, Japan, will lead a group of 34 students from the college on a cross-cultural tour of athletic-training programs in the Pacific Northwest. The tour, which will take place in February, will be hosted by Whitworth College. Last year, Hirai led a similar Whitworth-hosted visit; because the athletic-training students from both countries gained valuable professional and cultural experience, a second such tour was scheduled for 2005.

"The students from Japan demonstrate their interest in the profession of athletic training on an international scale," says Melinda Larson, Whitworth's head athletic trainer and an associate professor of kinesiology. "They provide Whitworth students with an intercultural experience on a personal level and stimulate them to think globally about their intended profession."

During their visit the Japanese students, who are majoring in athletic training and/or strength and conditioning, will tour athletic departments and training facilities at Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, Spokane Falls Community College, Washington State University and the University of Idaho. They will also tour the Whitworth campus and athletic-training facilities, and will shadow Whitworth athletic-training students during their clinical experience. Other tour activities will include attending a Whitworth basketball double-header and a Spokane Chiefs hockey game.

"I think the most unique part of their visit will be their personal interaction with the Whitworth students," Larson says. "This will provide them with an in-depth experience of the life of a U.S. college student studying in a program similar to theirs." 

Hirai, a native of Okayama, Japan, teaches athletic training at Fuji Athletic and Business College and serves as a Japan Anti-Doping Agency doping-control officer. She is also a part-time trainer for R-Body Project, a new fitness club in Japan that was established by ATCs from Washington State University and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. As an R-Body Project trainer, Hirai evaluates clients' fitness levels and body types, and creates individualized training programs for each client.

At Whitworth, Hirai was named the outstanding sports-medicine major during her senior year. After completing Whitworth's athletic-training program and graduating from Whitworth in 1996, Hirai passed the National Athletic Trainers Association Board of Certification exam.

"Chika has represented Whitworth College athletic training as well as any graduate we have had in my 15 years at Whitworth," says Russ Richardson, associate professor of kinesiology and director of the Whitworth Athletic Training Education Program.

Hirai is an interpreter for athletic trainers from the United States who speak annually for the Japanese Athletic Trainers Association. She has served as interpreter for several National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame members and is co-author of the book Sports Taping (in Japanese). Hirai also translated from English to Japanese a leading athletic-training text, Concepts of Athletic Training, by Ron Pfeiffer.


Melinda Larson, head athletic trainer and associate professor of kinesiology, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4389 or mlarson@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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