Taryn Hemmings talks about training with Japanese club TEPCO Mareeze just two weeks before earthquake

Taryn Hemmings recently returned from Japan, where she trained with the Japanese L1-League side TEPCO Mareeze. Two weeks after returning to the U.S., the massive 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck off the coast of Northeast Japan. Shortly thereafter, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began experiencing trouble. Within days, it suffered an explosion and began releasing radiation.

“The training center we stayed at was 8 kilometers from one of the nuclear power plants and 20 kilometers from another, so the entire area we were in has been evacuated,” Hemmings said. “Luckily, the team was in Southern Japan for a second team camp during the earthquake, but they have not been able to go back to their homes (they lived together in dorms) and don’t know how long it will be until they can go back or if they ever will. The scariest part to me is that because the team was owned by TEPCO, the girls worked everyday from 8-12 as administrative assistants in the nuclear power plants, so I am really glad they were nowhere near Fukushima when it happened. Right now, the girls said they are unsure what will happen with the team and have gone back to live with their families, so for now they have no team, no job, and their home is completely evacuated.”

Hemmings, who plays for the Boston Breakers of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), said she took part in a number of training sessions with TEPCO Mareeze.

“We were there at the beginning of their preseason, so we got to see how the Japanese do running, and they do a lot of running. During the second week we were there, we went to a camp in Chiba and had four trainings (one running, two practices, one lifting or swimming) a day, so that was a little rough,” Hemmings said. “The girls and coaching staff were awesome. They were all so welcoming and dealt well with the fact that I maybe knew three words of Japanese. I was really thankful for the time at camp even though it was hard, because we were able to spend a lot more time with the girls and get to know them.”

Hemmings said she’s been in touch with some of the players since the earthquake.

“I have talked to a couple of the girls. They seem obviously shaken up but said all the girls and all of their families are OK,” Hemmings said. “They are mostly worried about their company and the other people that work there and all the other people in Fukushima and the rest of Northern Japan.”