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From Japan to Portland, Timbers Trainer Taichi Kitagawa enters eighth season with club

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 7:01 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – Born and raised in Adogawa City, Japan, Taichi Kitagawa came to the United States back in 2004 to learn English and study up on how to become an athletic trainer.

Now the 37-year-old married father of two calls Portland home for his eighth season as the Timbers Head Associate Athletic Trainer.

“I am just enjoying the show. I am in the best seat to watch the entertainment too,” Kitagawa said. “I always wanted to be overseas when I was a kid too.”

Growing up on Air Jordan and Ichiro from afar back home in Japan, Kitagawa got his start in U.S. professional sports as an intern back in 2004 for the San Francisco 49ers. Then the Giants and the San Jose Earthquakes.

“It’s kind of a dream come true,” Kitagawa said.

After a stint as graduate assistant for the football team at Oregon State, Kitagawa found a home in the Beaver State.

“I always wanted to be a dad and I always wanted to have a family and wanted to get married and now I have two kids in this amazing country.”

On staff in the Rose City since the Timbers’ MLS Cup winning campaign of 2015, Kitagawa has discovered peace, hope and happiness while splitting the workload with Head Athletic Trainer Stephanie Ludwig.

“What we try to do is both of us share in the work together and then just in different ways collaborate with each other to support this club,” Kitagawa said. “Stephanie has a lot of great assets and strengths that I don’t have, and I have some of the strengths that she may not have yet and we love to share with each other to help this club.”

Speaking on Hina Sugita, the recent Japanese star of the Thorns, Kitagawa spoke praises:

“I think it’s amazing. She is trying the best she can to experience a different country and world. That is when diversity is amazing too -- just to get a different background, different languages, different cultures -- it only opens you up and accepting differences and different perspectives in life.”