Airi Miyabe left Japan to learn a new language, experience another culture and traditions, and to develop her skills at Minnesota while playing volleyball at the highest NCAA levels.
Miyabe left her parents and accomplished younger volleyball-playing sister at home in Osaka, Japan, in 2017 to play two seasons at an Idaho junior college before she arrived in Minnesota and the Big Ten this fall. She left as well to learn a new language, experience another culture and traditions, and to develop her skills with the Gophers while playing a better brand of volleyball at the highest NCAA levels.
“It was time to go somewhere else,” Miyabe said.
So she sent video footage to a few American universities, including Minnesota. Gophers coaches receive five to 10 such submissions a day, as many as 50 a week and maybe one a month is the real deal.
“Sometimes you see just one jump and hit,” said Laura Kasey, the Gophers associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, “and you know.”
And so it was with Miyabe’s footage that included action at a young age with the Japanese national team. Gophers staff visited her in Japan, where head coach Hugh McCutcheon once played and has visited maybe 40 times.