Mid-Pacific alumnus Dane Fujinaka named Hawaii Pacific’s new baseball head coach
The University of the Pacific in Hawaii has named 2011 Mid-Pacific alumna Dane Fujinaka as the new head coach of its baseball program.
Fujinaka, who was most recently manager of the Dominican branch of the Toronto Blue Jays in the Dominican Summer League, succeeds former HPU baseball coach Dallas Correa, who left his post to join the baseball program. ‘University of Hawaii at the end of July.
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Debbie Snell, who was announced as the new HPU athletic director on May 14, officially took office on July 1. Fujinaka is his first head coach hiring.
“It was quite surreal. I’ve always wanted the opportunity to come home and be able to coach college baseball in Hawaii, so I’m very happy and grateful that Dr. Snell, the new athletic director of HPU, and the entire baseball department. sports gave me the opportunity to come home and run the HPU baseball program, ”Fujinaka said. “It’s definitely acquired. I was able to spend time with my family and friends and have already met the team and the coaching staff. It has always been a dream for me to come home.
Fujinaka, who was named to the All-State State First Selection Team as wide receiver in his final year at MPI, played his first three seasons of college baseball for Sacramento State, where he has reached 0.246 in 152 career games with a defense percentage of 0.990. behind the plate. He played his last collegiate season at Menlo College, where he started all 54 games for the Oaks in 2016 and reached .280 with four homers and had a near-perfect field percentage of .995.
“There have been so many people who have influenced me as a person and as a coach. The two people that really come to mind in my coaching career are coach Dunn Muramaru who I played at Mid-Pac in high school and the coaching staff there. I’ve kind of carried the values I’ve learned in this program throughout my career as a player and coach, ”said Fujinaka. “The second guy is Jake McKinley, who I played in Sacramento State and Menlo for and coached for him as well. I’ve kind of followed his career path and he’s really been my mentor so to speak and really helped shape my coaching career.
After his college playing days were over, Fujinaka went straight to coaching. After a brief stint at Menlo, he served as a volunteer assistant coach for Sacramento State in 2017 and team coach in 2018.
From there, Fujinaka joined the Illinois State coaching staff ahead of the 2019 season, where he helped the Redbirds sign Hawaii Consensus State Player of the Year Micah Yonamine, to a national letter of intent, although Yonamine eventually signed with the Philadelphia Phillies after being selected in the 29th round of the MLB Draft.
In the summer of 2019, Fujinaka joined the MLB Toronto Blue Jays organization. He was the manager of the Dominican Summer League Blue Jays in 2021, who finished second in the Baseball City division standings at 33-19.
The Hawaii Pacific baseball team has gone from 9 to 17 in 2021 and has not faced anyone outside of Hawaii due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the team plans to return to a regular schedule and play outside the Hawaii bubble.
“I think it’s really about creating a culture and a community where the individuals who are part of a team try to improve themselves every day,” Fujinaka said of his goals. “I think that with the support of the alumni and the support of the school, we just make sure that the right people are part of a team that is trying to get better every day. I think the victories will happen on their own, but it definitely starts with that attitude of making sure we get a little better every day.
“I think there’s definitely a lot of excitement and a lot of anxiety because (the team) has really gone without a head coach all summer and partly this fall as well. There is definitely a lot of excitement and I met a lot of players and got to know the coaching staff some of them who were already on the coaching staff and they did a great job keeping these guys together and to actually be able to have a squad this late in the fall, that’s a huge credit to the coaching staff that was there last summer and was there for these guys and I’m just super excited to be a part of it. Being able to lead a good group of kids that some of them that I have known before and those that I have met have been really welcoming. I am super excited to be working with them.
“I’m just super excited for the opportunity and super grateful for the funders and the administration. It truly is a dream come true to be able to come back and coach baseball where I grew up.