Athlete of the week: Samira Tanaka

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It’s been a trip that has spanned two continents and covered more than 4,000 miles — 4090.7, to be exact. And it has all been worth it for Samira Tanaka, senior business administration major and NSU softball player.

Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tanaka began playing on the streets or on any field she could find in her neighborhood. She would throw the ball around for hours, until one day it caught the eye of one of her neighbors, who suggested to Tanaka’s mother that she get her daughter involved in the sport more.

Tanaka soon began playing baseball at 8-years-old, before switching to softball a few years later, and, for a short while, she played both.

Tanaka attended Colegio Sao Jose de Bastos for high school in Brazil, where she played all four years under head coach Carlos Nakamura. Upon graduating in 2010, she enrolled at Miami-Dade College, because the head coach, who had friends in Brazil, was offering scholarships to softball players from Brazil.

She knew the importance of going to college in the U.S. Earning a college degree in this country would mean so much more for job opportunities back in Brazil, if she were to choose to move back. She has fallen in love with South Florida, so the decision could be more difficult than she expected.

“I want to stay here for a little while or maybe for my whole life. I don’t know,” Tanaka said. “But if I go back to Brazil, my degree will have a lot of value. In Brazil, having an American degree is like ‘wow.’”

The 2014 season has been up and down for Tanaka and the Sharks so far. They haven’t been able to get any kind of momentum going this season. But they won’t let a lackluster start discourage them from finishing the season strong.

“We had a rough start. Well, we started kind of good but then we started going down and now we are kind of just there like we don’t know where we are going,” Tanaka said. “I hope we start going up, because we do have chances. I think we need to just focus in those games that we have left and hit the ball hard.”

I sat down with Tanaka and ask her a few questions to help get to know her better as a student and an athlete.

How would you describe yourself as a player?
“I love the game. I’m just happy when I’m playing and I’m out on the field. I just enjoy it. I’m passionate.”

What are your strengths a player?
“My strengths are my defensive play, I would say. I think I have quick hands.”

What are your weaknesses as a player?
“When I start to think too much about what I need and have to do, I just become a snowball and it’s kind of hard to get out of it. If I just stop at the beginning, then it’s better. But, sometimes, it doesn’t work that way.”

What was your most memorable moment as a player?
“I got to play for the national team [Brazil] in 2010 at a Pan-American games qualifier, in Columbia, for the Under-19 World Cup, and it was a great game. We qualified for the World Cup in Africa.”

What is your favorite food?
“Churrasco, which is Brazilian Barbeque. Just thinking about it — oh my God.”

What is your favorite movie?
“The Lion King.”

Who is your favorite athlete?
“Neymar, a soccer player.”

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
“If I hadn’t already been to Japan, I would have liked to go there, but I’ve been there so I would like to go to Europe. Like Paris and places around there. It looks beautiful.”

If you could play another sport here at NSU what would it be?
“Soccer.”

Who would play you in a movie about your life?
“I would say my older sister. She is like my second mom and she takes care of me like that. And she looks like me.”

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