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March 23, 1966 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1966-03-23

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Waka':Saga of the Little Man



Acting Associate Sports Editor
"... And this Washabytiki play-
ed real well as usual too," conclud-
ed MSU hockey coach Amo Bes-
sone after a game in the Coliseum
early in February
That little guy with the long
name, Mel Wakabayashi, has been
giving coaches and public address
announcers indigestion for the
past three WCHA seasons. Even
when his name is spelled ,correctly
on the scorecard, it usually comes
out like vegetable soup.
Names don't mean a thing when
you're out on the ice, but Mel
stands out on skates just as much
as his name does on paper. Desire,
hustle, team spirit, and gentleman
must all start with W-A-K-A in
Japanese, but ...
Doesn't Show
"I know it probably doesn't look
like it, but I really do eat a lot,
especially at home," said the 155
' pound center as he toyed with the
last crumbs of a piece of cherry
pie that had gone the same route
as two hamnburgers and an order
of french fries. "I've been the
same height for about the past
five years, but I haven't picked up;
too much weight (15 pounds) ."
The little man is being replaced.
in almost every major sport. Pro-
fessional, hockey is going the same
way that football and basketball
have; therefore, Mel will probably
never be given a chance to try to
make it with the pro leagues even
though "I've dreamed about it just
like any other kid that has ever
played hockey. I'd love to give it
a try," he added a bit wistfully
with a far away gleam in his eyes.
If "Waka's" ability, desire and
hustle could only be put in a ,six
foot, 200 pound frame'.,.
No "If's"
But there are no "if's" in Mel's
style of play. He has had to live
with his physical limitations for
the past 12 years of hockey, and
he has learned, sometimes the
hard way, that "I've just got to use
my head when I'm on the ice.
Heck, I can't go barrelling into
the corners for the puck, those
big fellows would just push me
aside. I've got to get the puck some
other way. I go for the puck any
way I can. Any way that's legal,"
he added hastily.
"I can't go around hitting guys.
I do my fighting with my stick."
In this respect Mel has set an
amazing individual record for pen-
alty minutes: in three years of

hockey he has served four minutes
in the penalty box. Last season
when he won the league individual
scoring championship he had a
big zero in that column of the
Mel remembers both infractions
quite vividly, and staunchly be-
lieves that he didn't really deserve
either one of them. "The one two
years ago was called in one of my
first games for Michigan. I got
my stick caught between this my's
legs, and the ref called me for
tripping. THAT was a cheap pen-
alty. The other one I got this
year in Boston when I elbowed
some guy after he hit me with
his stick. I still think he should
have been called too, but he
wasn't. Sometimes you can't avoid
penalties like when you're on de-
fense, but I can't see getting
whistled down for some stupid
slugging in the corners. You just
hurt the team that way."
The team means everything to
Mel. He has picked up quite a few
individual awards (MVP of the
WCHA and team captain this year,
league scoring champion last year,
Michigan MVP last year, All-
Tournament team in the Boston
Area tournament for the last two
years, and first and second WCHA
team for the last two seasons re-
spectively), but he would have
traded all of that hardware for a
shot at the NCAA title. When he
was a soph, Mel centered the third
line on the NCAA champion Wol-
verines, and he said, "I'll never
forget that thrill"; however, the
last two seasons have found the
Maize and Blue out of the run-
ning for the national champion-
MSU Wins
This year it was MSU that,
eliminated Michigan 3-2, and the
Spartans went on to win the
crown. In that game Wakabayashi
was everywhere on the ice, and he
scored Michigan's only two goals
as he skated his best game of
the year.
About the captaincy the Chat-
ham, Ont. native said, "I just
tried, to set an example-on and
off the ice. I'm just not the holler
guy that runs around firing every-
one up. I'm always pretty quiet
in the dressing room. I don't know
whether that is good or bad, but
that's just the way I am. Besides,
if a guy can't get himself up for
a game there is something wrong."
Before any game, Mel figures
on losing a couple of hours sleep,
and after a game, especially if

Michigan lost, he replays the en-
tire game in his mind and remem-
bers where he made his mistakes
so that they won't happen again.
A Gentleman
In everything that Mel does he
is a gentleman. His outlook on
life is based around what he
owes the world. "There are thou-
sands of kids that would give any-
thing for the chance that I have
had, so I owe it to them and my-
self to make the most of it."
"Waka" came to Michigan from
the Junior A Border City League
that produced the Martilla Broth-
ers, Inc., and'Bruce Koviak. In one
season there he scored 64 goals in
30 games and racked up the as-

tounding total of 104 points. Even
with these credentials he only got
one scholarship offer, and that
was Michigan.
Wakabayashi will graduate with
a degree in physical education in
another year, but before he tries
his hand at teaching he wants to
travel since, "The furthest south
I've ever been is Denver, and the
furthest East is New York City.
What I would really like to do is
to go over to Japan and help them
with their hockey program. I don't
really know what kind of oppor-
tunities there are in that, but I'm
sure going to find out."
Born in Japan
Both of Mel's parents were born
in Japan, but after they got mar-
ried in Canada they became con-
cerned with a growing brood of
Wakabayashi's that now numbers
eight. With that kind of home
cheering section Waka's major job
on Thursdays was to get tickets
for his staunchest supporters.
Besides his hockey ability, one
of Mel's greatest assets is his
modesty. To Mel confidence is
one thing, but patting yourself on
the back is still another. Even
when questioned directly about his
accomplishments over the past
three years at Michigan his an-
swers consist of a series of . .
You're only as good as the guys
you play with ... I could not take
credit for that myself . . . (a
sheepish smile here and there if
you wish) and "I don't really
deserve this award."
Mel's harshest critic is undoubt-
edly himself, because no matter
who you ask around the WCHA,
they will tell you that Mel Waka-
bayashi earned and deserved every
award he ever got, and maybe
even a little more.

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S, 1.

If communications were good enough
you could stay in the sack all day


m i


Moving your body around
is highly inefficient.
If communications were perfect,
you would never have to.
Of course, you would still
have to get exercise.
But that's your problem.
We want to make it easier for you
to contact people, learn,
get information, attend lectures,
and hold meetings.

We developed Picturephone*
service so you can see as well as talk
when you call. And be seen, too.
We introduced Tele-Lecture service
(two-way amplified phone calls)
to let you hear lecturers
in distant locations. And so you
could ask them questions
no matter how far away they were.
Right now, many students can dial
from their dormitories to a
language lab. Soon a student
will be able to dial into a
computer thousands of miles away
to get information for his courses.

Depending on the nature
of the information, he might get
his answer back audibly,
printed on a teletypewriter,
as a video image,
or a facsirrile print.
Some of these services
are available now.
Others are being tested.
For the next week or so,
better get a move on.
*Service mark of the Bell System
Bell System
American Telephone & Telegraph
and Associated Companies


Allegiance to the Board
Or to the Student Body?
Why should anyone vote for Bob McFarland in today's election
for the student representative for the Board in Control of Intercol-
legiate Athletics? Just because he's more qualified than his opposition?
SThat's as gFood as any other, reason.
McFarland has covered almost every Michigan sport at one
time or another during his two years on The Daily sports staff.
He Is familiar with the athletic administration, coaches, and
players. He has reported on the Board's activities for the last
year. And besides the local level, he has had the opportunity to
come in contact with athletic administrators from other Big Ten.
schools and other conferences around the nation.
Consider now, if you will, his opponent's qualifications. Rocky
Rosema is a jock. He is on athletic tender. He has participated in only
one sport at Michigan. If an issue came before the Board on which
the student representative had to choose, say, between football and
basketball for appropriations, for instance, how would Rosema's
orientation towards football prompt him to vote? Or how would his
tender influence his decision?
McFarland, on the other hand, has only the students to work for.
He owes no allegiance to any one sport or to the Board for a scholar-
What will McFarland do for the students if elected? What
can one man do on a Board of 16? All he can do is fight for
what he thinks is right. And at least you know what he'll be
fighting for. One thing he's against is the raising of, student prices
for athletic contests, a subject which has been mentioned more
than casually.
"Student prices at Michigan are much higher than the average
level around the country at the present time. Before any further
raises are made, I feel that other means of raising funds should be
studied," McFarland stated. "Students are already paying too large
a share of what's going into athletics, and if at all possible their
share should be reduced." McFarland mentioned the possibility of
raising noh-student prices before charging the students extra.
Rosema's campaign propaganda states that he is "aware of the
problems prevalent in intercollegiate athletics" and that he should be
* elected because he is "more closely associated with these problems."
More closely associated than what, Rocky?
Supporters of Rosema, whether or not he is aware of the
fact, have torn down McFarland's campaign signs in 'South Quad.
In Markley they turned a McFarland sign around and wrote the
athlete's name on the back. Again in South, Rosema posters were
displayed without permission of house authorities, and his name
was scrawled on doors. This farcical regard of SGC election pro-
cedures shows only a lack of maturity and a lack of concern for
the effect of this position on the Board in relation to the welfare.
of the student body.
Nevertheless, the athletic candidate will have the support of a
good number of the 200 or so tendered athletes on campus. As one
frahman football plaver commented. "The coaches told me to vote









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from former list price


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