Getting Personal: Yoshi Hayasaki

Getting Personal: Yoshi Hayasaki

Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, a chat with legendary coach Yoshi Hayasaki of Champaign, now the owner and coach at Hayasaki Gymnastics Center.

What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?

I get up at 6:45 a.m., take a shower, have a cup of coffee, read the paper and watch the morning news before I take my daughter to Franklin Middle School.

What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?

I went to Panera and met my wife, Lisa, and we had lunch together.

Best high school memory?

I went out for my first date at a high school prom in Seattle. I don't remember her name.

Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.

My favorite red shoes I bought in Europe; many of my friends made fun of me for wearing them.

What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?

Being able to play nine holes of golf with my daughter, Mia, in sunny, 75-degree weather.

Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?

It is called "Strawberry Fields," about a young Japanese boy who came to America and worked in southern California, picking strawberries to make his living. It's written in Japanese. It has a lesson about overcoming hardships and persevering as a young person in new land.

Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?

I have traveled many parts of the world with my gymnastics profession, performing and coaching, but because of the busy competition schedule, I did not get to see much of the countries I visited. Therefore, I would like to revisit these countries and travel around the world with my wife.

Tell me about your favorite pet.

Frankie is our dachshund and almost 10 years old. All I can say is that our kids love this dog, but I am the one who takes care of him. That was not the agreement before we got him.

Have you discovered as you matured that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?

I think I am becoming more like my mother in some ways. My mother constantly worried about her children's well-being and safety, especially when they were away from home. I am beginning to think like that, too. I have one in California, one in North Carolina and one in the U.K.

What would you order for your last meal?


What can you NOT live without?


Who do you have on your iPod?

I don't own an iPod, but I love many oldies from '60s, '70s and '80s music, including Elvis Presley. I have been known to sing at weddings.

What's the happiest memory of your life?

When I finally arrived in America after two weeks on a cargo ship from Yokoyama, Japan, to Longview, Wash., in 1965.

Do you have a bad habit? What is it?

I cannot stop working. I eat too many doughnuts and drink too much coffee in the morning.

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?

My two sisters and a brother who live in Japan.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

"Be productive and become a productive citizen." And "When you start a project, complete it well." Words from my father.

What's your best piece of advice?

I've told many people "Gumba." It means "Go for it" in English.

What was your first job, and how much did you make an hour?

I worked as a grocery store assistant, moving frozen food from a freezer. I can not remember how much I made, but I was happy to buy food for myself with the money I earned.

What was a pivotal decision in your career, and how did you arrive at that decision?

My pivotal decision came when I returned to work from my retirement. I decided to open Hayasaki Gymnastics Center a few months ago. I arrived at this decision because I felt I can continue to contribute my knowledge and experience I gained from coaching at the University of Illinois. Now, I am helping young kids who may benefit and value from this athletic experience.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

Try to break down the problem and simplify the situation. Go back to the basics and reflect in a peaceful environment like in a Jacuzzi with beautiful night stars.