About The Pasadena Bruins
In the 1950's and 1960's, Pasadena had a baseball league called Pasadena Japanese Athletic Association, or PJAA for short. This was the only organized Asian sports league in Pasadena at that time and there were no organized Asian leagues for girls or for basketball. Over the years, the number of teams dwindled to only 3-4 teams. In 1972, group of parents banded together and decided to join the Community Youth Council, better known as CYC. The pioneers and founders of the Pasadena Bruins consisted of June and Ken Hayashi, Robert and Alice Kikkawa, Kaz and Hatsumi Kitani and Tak and Shinobu Kiriyama. Fundraisers were held in order to defray costs for registration fees, equipment and uniforms. Frank and Marian Sata personally solicited donations from the Pasadena community
Initially, the Bruins only participated in CYC baseball, before expanding into basketball. Their initiation into the CYC basketball league consisted of 6 boy’s teams from the ages of 9-14 and 2 girl’s teams in the junior and senior divisions. Ed Fukutaki, June Hayashi and Robert Kikkawa were instrumental in organizing the girls division of the Pasadena Bruins in the Japanese American Optimist (JAO) league. At that time, most of the participants were members of the Pasadena Buddhist Church and because of that and the availability of the church gym, an agreement was made with the church to use their gym at a reduced rate, in return for the Bruins assisting with the church's various fund raising functions. This was the perfect symbiotic relationship, not only allowing the Bruins to expand and grow their organization but to also expose the Asian American participants and families to the various Japanese cultural events held at the church.
From those humble beginnings in the early 1970’s, the Pasadena Bruins now support over 34 boys and girls basketball teams from 5 years old through the prep division, and they have grown into one of the largest organizations in Southern California. Much of this growth has been driven by our very popular Pee Wee clinic, which is held annually in the winter and is at maximum capacity every year.
In 1997, then Bruins Commissioner Bryon Wada held the very first Bruins Pee Wee clinic. By the following year, Dan Nakauchi, who would later follow Bryon as Bruins Commissioner, took over as head coach for the clinic. Under Dan’s leadership, the clinic grew from 30 kids to nearly 150 per year. Focusing on fundamentals and separating Kindergarteners and Pre-K age levels allowed customized drills to fit age and ability levels. Dan was also instrumental in the creation and growth of the Bruins prep divisions, which allowed boys and girls to continue playing all the way through 12th grade.
Many of those children involved as players in the first few years are now parents with children of their own participating in CYC and JAO. The second and even some third generation of Bruins are now participating in the various leagues. Pasadena's involvement in the CYC, JAO, NAU (adult men’s) and SCWAU (adult women’s)organizations enabled thousands of children and adults to participate in a wide scaled organized sports league.