Kaycie Tanimoto, a member of the Texas Wesleyan women’s wrestling team, is a native Hawaiian but moved to the mainland U.S. with her family when she was a junior in high school. With more opportunities on the horizon, Kaycie, her parents, her brother and two family dogs started their journey to Texas.
“Cowboy boots are a big thing here,” Tanimoto said while laughing. When asked what the biggest culture difference was from her homeland, she said that the way people dressed was very different. Hawaii's climate is tropical, so people generally just wear shirts, shorts, and slippers.
“The Stockyards were super interesting to me,” Kaycie said. “And the way people dress in the mainland because in Hawaii the temperature doesn’t really change.”
Despite the changes and culture shock, Kaycie’s had one thing stay consistent — her love for wrestling and Judo.
Judo is a Japanese form of martial arts, “a combat sport,” Kaycie said. It’s a sport that’s in her DNA. Her dad has competed for 57 years, so it became natural for her when she started at only six years old.
She’s been to three national judo tournaments, taking the podium every time. This summer, she’ll travel across the world to Chengdu, China to represent Texas Wesleyan University and compete in the World University Games, a twelve-day competition highlighting various sports and elite athletes from all over the world.
Kaycie is not unfamiliar with the big stage, but this will be the biggest competition she’s entered. “I’ve been to national tournaments, but this will be my first time going international,” Kaycie said.
But she’s not letting her nerves for this big event get the best of her. She is leaning on the support of her family and the club where she trains with her dad.
“I’m nervous because I’ve never gone out of the country before,” she said. “I train a lot with my dad, who is the head sensei and the reason I got into Judo.”
Her dad, the reason she started Judo, and her papa (grandfather) are her biggest cheerleaders. “He’s the reason why I get to go to college,” Kaycie said about her papa. He’s been supporting her love for Judo and wrestling since she was little.
He has gone to every single state tournament, even the ones Kaycie didn’t compete in. Her papa helps make sure it’s possible that she gets to go on all her wrestling and Judo trips, including the upcoming China trip.
“He wants me to experience everything because we’re his only grandchildren,” Kaycie said. “He’s my biggest supporter.”
Your RAMily will be cheering you on too, Kaycie!
You can check out when Kaycie is competing at the World University Summer Games 2023 on the Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) website here.