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LSUS Home to Japanese Weightlifters

March 22, 2016

LSU Shreveport is excited to welcome Japanese weightlifters to campus for the eighth consecutive year. This year six students were chosen to come to LSUS to train in weightlifting and learn English as a second language (ESL) for three weeks.

Junichi Okada, professor and coach of weightlifting at Waseda University in Japan, organized the program more than eight years ago after consulting Dr. Kyle Pierce, professor of kinesiology and health science at LSUS.

“Okada was here in Shreveport for a conference years ago and came to talk with me about this idea he had of bringing Japanese students to LSUS for them to learn the language and train,” Dr. Pierce said. “We looked into everything involved and it worked out for them to come here.”

The weightlifters are college students from different universities in Japan. The student weightlifters are chosen for the program based on their skills in weightlifting and any knowledge they have of the English language.

New students come every year in February, with some students returning for a second time because of the unique and positive experience of the event. One such student is Seiichiro Takei, who became the assistant coach to the Olympic Weightlifting Team at LSUS and also served as a graduate assistant to Dr. Pierce. He received his Masters of Science in Kinesiology and Wellness from LSUS last year and works at Schumpert Hospital.

“I’m so happy I got a chance to know the weightlifting program at LSUS and work with the great students in the program,” Takei said. “My ultimate goal is to be in the 2024 Olympics. I also want to work toward a doctorate degree in psychology or kinesiology and be a coach and professor to teach students and share my passion for weightlifting.”

The weightlifters stay with host families who are interested in housing the students.

“They learn English and they improve their weightlifting skills. These students have been involved in a lot of things like the Mardi Gras parades and sporting events,” Pierce said. “They experience what it’s like to be American.”

Pat Frazier, a retired Caddo school teacher, helps the Japanese students learn English. She taught at LSUS for five of the eight years since the Japanese program began.

“The program is not bilingual, but is taught in English as an immersion process,” Frazier said.

This immersion process has proven to be a success to the Japanese students in the weightlifting program. In addition to teaching ESL to the weightlifters, LSUS is excited to have the new partnership with The Language Company to offer English as a second language to other international students on campus. The Language Company began its mission in 1983 by offering international students the chance to learn English and study in America, while also providing cultural development in U.S. communities.

The USA Weightlifting Center for High Performance and Development is located in the Health and Physical Education Building on the campus of LSU Shreveport.

For other information on the Weightlifting Program at LSUS, please visit


Photo: (From left to right) Back Row: Wasahiro Fulimato, Yuta Mitami, Hikaru Tesigawara, and Coach Masahiro Kinjo. Front Row: Momoka Nakayama, Hitomi Uematsu, and Imari Morishita.

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