SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento State gymnastics team has added legendary coach Mas Watanabe as a volunteer assistant to its staff, it was announced today by head coach Kim Hughes.
A world renowned coach, who was a 2007 inductee into the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame, Watanabe brings international experience to the Hornets. For over 40 years, Watanabe has coached some of the best gymnasts in the world, including Olympians and national champions from many countries. He currently serves as the vault coach for the U.S. Women's National Team as well as an instructor at Byers Elk Grove.
"It is an honor to have a coach of Mas' ability willing to join our staff," Hughes said. "Everyone on the team, from the coaches to the gymnasts, can learn from his instruction and experiences."
Watanabe began his gymnastics career at the age of 12 in his native Japan. He was a member of the Japanese National Team for six years, including in 1966 when Japan won the team title at World Championships. After moving to the United States, he became an assistant for the men's team at Cal in 1969. Watanabe helped Cal win the NCAA team title in 1975 as well as a pair of third place showings (1974 and 1976).
His association with U.S. Gymnastics began with him being a key contributor to the creation of the Junior Olympic Program. That system helped train future national team members and his work could be seen in the United States' performance at the international level from 1974 to 1984.
Watanabe returned to coach in Japan in 1984 and served as the head coach for the national team from 1985-86. He returned to the U.S. in 1988 and took over as the USFG Men's Program Director where he served 10 years.
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