Wanjettes Basketball

Tournament History

Reprinted from article written for "10th Annual Tournament" in 1981.


Sometime during the winter of 1970, some of us were trying to figure a way to raise funds to support our Wanjettes basketball team. Selling senbei would not raise enough and asking our parents for more money was not fair. In the end, we decided to sponsor a basketball tournament for little girls and hoped that we could raise enough funds for our basketball team. 


Ed Takahashi, major domo of the JAO Basketball League, supplied us with the names of all of the teams and we sent invitations to them to see if they would be interested in an all-girl tournament. To our surprise, many of the teams responded and we felt elated that we were able to field 24 teams in three divisions - a junior, senior and open division. 


Organizing a basketball tournament, especially the first one, is not an easy task and we quickly ran into a problem what do we do for referees? The entry fee for each team was not enough to cover the expense of hiring officials. A little imagination goes a long way and so we invited our friends to a free dinner at the Ponderosa, an "all-you-can-eat" restaurant, and then we trapped them into agreeing to officiate the games for free. Sneaky, but effective. 


Publishing a program was another idea and without knowing too much about putting a program together, we zoomed ahead full steam. The members talked their parents or friends who had businesses to take out ads in the program. Fortunately, Ellen Fukuyama, a graphic artist, volunteered to do the layout and art work for our first program - otherwise, we would have never made it. 


It wasn't over yet. We needed trophies and had no funds so we finally had to go to our parents for help. And help they did. Our parents - Mr. and Mrs. Yoshio Tanaka; Mr. and Mrs. Nob Hatashita; Mr. and Mrs. Hatanaka; Mr. and Mrs. Katase; and Mr. and Mrs. Watanabe donated the money for the team trophies. For the All-Star trophies, we asked our friends to donate five dollars each. 


The ironic thing about our first tournament was that we didn't want to ask our parents or friends for donations when we started and we ended up doing just that. So much for good intentions. 


In spite of all our problems, our first Wanjettes Young Miss Tournament was launched on April 10 and 11, 1971 and it turned out pretty good although we made our share of mistakes. For instance, the scheduling was good if you liked basketball enough to play it one game after another marathon-style. The Tigerettes, coached by Hiro Taniyama, had a one o'clock game at Roosevelt and a two o'clock game at Hollenbeck - on the same day. We finally straightened that mess up by rescheduling the Tigerettes at three o'clock at Hollenbeck - still on the same day! 


By the way, some of the "little" girl all-stars in our first tournament such as Stephanie Sinn, Laura Fujisawa, Karen Young and Dale Lee are now all-stars in the SCNAU. 


The following year, the late Art Katayama and his son, Ron, of the VFW Post 9902, helped the Wanjettes by getting their group to donate the team trophies. Their guidance helped us run the tournament smoother and they also aided us in selling more raffle tickets. The first year's raffle had been a disaster. 


Shig Shimada of San Jose is responsible for making all of our beautiful trophies and of course, Akira Komai, publisher of the Rafu Shimpo, has always published our tournament schedules and results. 


The success of our tournament is through the participation of many people and among some are nice surprise touches such as the time Donn Moon donated free soft drinks for all the girls playing at Garfield. And speaking of soft drinks, Dick Marquis always donates cases of the stuff for our raffle drawing and we couldn't announce winners without Mrs. Fujisawa, who lends us her PA system. 


Linda Katase-Shelton made our programs more professional by doing the whole program herself and now, Kango Kunitsugu generously donates his time to make the whole program himself. 


Another important member has been Dave Hirota, who worked with us during tournament time as part of the Wanjettes crew. He always kiddingly stated that bracketing the tournament team schedule and announcing was hard work. Hard work or not, we appreciated his efforts even though he did seem to like to order us around during basketball time. 


Finally, the most important persons who have continuously supported the Wanjettes organization by providing guidance and inspiration to the members have been Mrs. Amy Miyakawa and Mr. Mits Sakaniwa, to whom we have dedicated this booklet. In recent years, Gene Tsuno, Cliff Kurakazu and Atsuko Hirai have provided help in developing this tournament and also, our organization. 


Girls basketball has grown and continues to grow since we first initiated our tournament ten years ago. This is evident in our tournament, which began with a small three-division tourney and has grown up to eleven-divisions---or from 24 teams to over 80 teams. 


Little did we realize back in 1970 when this whole thing got started that the Wanjettes Young Miss Tournament would be flourishing ten years later at a larger and more enthusiastic scale. The success of the tournament is a tribute to a great many people who contribute their time, talent, material and just pure sweat for the love and fun of helping and participating in a community youth program. We thank all of you very much. 


-Gail Tanaka